Ousted Mali leader takes refuge in Dakar

2012-04-20 08:20

Dakar – Former Mali president Amadou Toumani Toure, who formally resigned after being ousted by a military junta last month, arrived in Dakar last evening with his family, the Senegalese president’s office announced.

Abou Abel Thiam, spokesperson for Senegalese President Macky Sall, said that Toure, after arriving at 11.30pm, had been taken to the Residence Pasteur where high-ranking guests are lodged.

“He was calm, he was with his entire family” of about 15, Thiam said.

Senegalese Foreign Minister Alioune Badara Cisse had gone to pick them up in the Malian capital Bamako in the Senegalese presidential plane, he added.

It was not immediately known if Toure would stay in Senegal or was just passing through.

A military source in Bamako had earlier said, on condition of anonymity, that Toure had departed “with the agreement of Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo”, the coup leader, after soldiers posted at the airport had refused to let him leave.

The military source said troops had tried to oppose the former president’s departure by firing in the air, provoking mass panic.

A group of renegade soldiers claiming to act against the government’s inability to stop a Tuareg rebellion in the north seized control of Bamako on March 22, five weeks before the presidential elections.

Following the conquest of the entire northern half of the nation by Tuareg rebels and al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters and amid international condemnation, the junta struck a deal brokered by regional powers.

It officially relinquished power to civilian authority a week ago but the ex-junta has since flexed its muscles and detained figures close to the ousted president, Toure.

The military yesterday released 22 soldiers and politicians they had arrested earlier this week, a freed lawmaker said.

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