Supporters want Sanogo leadership

2012-05-23 13:57  Bamako - Supporters of Mali's coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said they have named him head of a transition government, ignoring a deal mediated by regional leaders and signed at the weekend.

Members of a pro-putsch coalition said in a statement they decided at a meeting on Tuesday "to institute Captain Amadou Sanogo as president of the transition" in the west African nation.

On Sunday the junta signed an accord mediated by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) that former speaker Dioncounda Traore would lead the 12-month transition back to democratic rule.

But thousands of people who supported the March ouster of president Amadou Toumani Toure then took to the streets to protest the appointment of a former member of his government.

Scores of protesters besieged Traore's offices and physically attacked him on Monday, prompting widespread condemnation and calls for calm in what was considered one of the region's stable democracies before the crisis.

Sanogo on 22 March led a group of low-ranking officers to oust the government which they said was incompetent in handling a rebellion by armed Tuaregs in the north which broke out in January.

However, the coup only opened the way for the Tuaregs, armed Islamists backed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other criminal groups to occupy the vast north, an area larger than France.

The pro-putsch Committee of Malian Patriotic Organisations (COPAM) issued a resolution Tuesday saying Sanogo's priority would be "the recovery of territory with the army, the Malian people and friendly countries passionate about peace."

He would then organise elections.

Sanogo initially resisted Ecowas efforts to have Traore continue as transition leader for a year after he was inaugurated on 12 April for a period of 40 days.

However the coup leader came around after being offered the status of a former head of state, giving him housing, transport, security and an allowance.

- AFP