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Mali Junta Supporters Back Sanogo as Interim President

A group that backs Mali’s military junta said it wants coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to head a transitional government after the country’s interim president was injured by protesters demanding his resignation.

“He will be informed of his appointment as president by the national convention and he will be invested” tomorrow, Mohamed Taboure, a spokesman for the group known by its French acronym Copam, told reporters yesterday in Bamako, the capital.

Interim leader Dioncounda Traore was flown out of the country yesterday to receive treatment in France for injuries he sustained when protesters stormed his office on May 21 to demand he step down. The demonstration, which was called by Copam, came a day after a deal was reached between Sanogo and the Economic Community of West African States under which the army captain stepped down and Traore’s position as head of the transitional government was extended from 40 days to one year.

“Whether people agree with the Ecowas accord or not, the political process must be respected so that the government can get to work,” Gilles Yabi, West Africa director at Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said by phone from Dakar.

Sanogo will earn benefits as a former head of state under the Ecowas deal, Burkina Faso’s Foreign Affairs Minister Djibril Bassole said on May 21.

Political Game

“It is not difficult to see that Sanogo is playing a deft political game, extracting considerable concessions for himself,” Hannah Waddilove, sub-Saharan Africa analyst at London-based risk-advisory group AKE Ltd., said in an e-mailed response to questions today.

The assault on Traore, a former leader of the national assembly, shows “the fragility of the transition process and his personal mandate,” said Waddilove. “More specifically it proved that the security forces are not willing to protect him, which has wider security implications and makes members of the civilian transition vulnerable.”

Mali, which ranks alongside Tanzania as Africa’s third-biggest gold producer, has been in political crisis since March 22, when soldiers ousted President Amadou Toure amid discontent about the resources the government was dedicating to fight Touareg rebels in the nation’s northern region. The insurgents took advantage of the instability to declare independence in the north on April 6.

“Prime Minister Modibo Diarra is responsible for the transitional government and charged with finding a solution for the crisis in the north,” Yabi said. “He does not have a lot of political experience and we should give him some time to get started.”

Diarra’s cabinet held its second official meeting late yesterday, approving a loan for an irrigation project and appointments to the youth ministry, according to a government statement published on the news website Journal du Mali.

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