Once established at the broadcast center, the Malian troops, calling themselves the “CNRDR” or National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State, announced that they’d seized control and suspended the consitution.
Watch a video of the coup announcement:
Soldiers’ celebratory gunfire reportedly rang out in the capitol through this morning, apparently defying orders. Reports emerged of looting at the presidential palace. An initial report that the president, Amadou Toumani Touré, took refuge at the U.S. embassy is in dispute.
The U.S. State Department — whose websites’s Mali country profile lauds “excellent and expanding” relations “based on shared goals of strengthening democracy and reducing poverty” — released a statement condemning the military moves and calling for a swift return to constitutional rule:
The United States condemns the military seizure of power in Mali…. We call for calm and the restoration of the civilian government under constitutional rule without delay, so that elections can proceed as scheduled. We stand with the legitimately elected government of President Amadou Toumani Touré.
An American in Mali reports on his blog that the embassy there sent out warning SMS messages. The blogger, anthropologist Bruce Whitehouse, wrote:
Three SMS messages from the US Embassy just received: “continue to shelter in place,” and “please prepare for possible service outages: water, electricity, internet”. Another announces that the airport has been closed.
Touré was expected to step down before elections late next month. Tensions rose between the civilian government and the military over supply levels to battle the Touareg rebellion in the country’s north, and general management of that crisis and a protest movement in the south.
Blogger Alex Thurston, an Africa scholar, analyzed some initial reports, makes comparisons and puts the coup in context. “Looking forward,” he wrote, “the fate of the elections and the fate of the war in the north will be paramount concerns. How will the new leaders (or Toure, if he stays) shift the government’s political strategy in the north?”
New York state Sen. James Alesi (R) was one of several Republicans who supported marriage equality in last year’s crucial vote, and now it seems he may not get the support of the main Republican committee in his district. The National Organization for Marriage has been campaigning against Alesi’s re-election in retribution for endorsing same-sex marriage, but the New York Times reports that this was not a “decisive” factor for losing the nomination. The paper notes that most GOP leaders are concerned about a frivolous lawsuit Alesi filed last year against two of his constituents. A month after New York’s marriage law took effect, 55 percent of residents supported it, with 63 percent opposed overturning it. Though Alesi may have to petition for a primary and win it to ensure his name is on the ballot, there are currently no Republican challengers in the district.
“Native Americans gathering in Cushing, OK for a planned Thursday protest of President Obama’s anticipated words of praise for the Keystone XL pipeline will be forced by local authorities to hold their event in a cage erected in Memorial Park,” Climate Connections reports. “President Obama is an adopted member of the Crow Tribe, so his fast-tracking a project that will desecrate known sacred sites and artifacts is a real betrayal and disappointment for his Native relatives everywhere,” said Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Tar sands is devastating First Nations communities in Canada already and now they want to bring that environmental, health, and social devastation to US tribes.” Rosemary Crawford, Project Manager of the Center for Energy Matters, added: “We can’t stop global warming with more fossil fuel pipelines.”