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Mali: call on coup leaders to release arrested politicians

Leaders of the military coup against President Amadou Toumani Touré’s Malian government must release the prime minister and other politicians from custody and take steps to protect human rights, Amnesty International said today.

At least three members of Mali’s government, including the prime minister Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, and the Minister of the Territorial administration Kafougouna Koné, were arrested yesterday.

It is thought they are being held at the military camp in Kati, around 12 miles from the capital Bamako. The president of the Economic and Social Council and the president of the High Council on Territorial Communities, plus former prime minister Modibo Sidibé, have also been arrested and are reportedly being held at the national police camp.

The soldiers of the newly formed National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State have said they will hand back power back to a democratically-elected president as soon “as the country is reunified and its integrity is no longer threatened”.

Amnesty International West Africa researcher Gaëtan Mootoo said:

“We call on the soldiers who have staged this coup to release immediately the political leaders and to prevent any violation of human rights and to restore the rule of law.

“With the suspension of all the legal institutions and the curfew that has been imposed, all the basic safeguards for the respect of human rights have been put on hold.”

Meanwhile, three people have been killed by stray bullets fired by soldiers in the centre of Bamako and their bodies have been taken to Gabriel Toure hospital where 28 people injured during the coup are also being treated. Shops have been looted and vehicles have been seized by soldiers throughout the day.

The coup comes against the backdrop of a two-month rebellion by Tuareg armed groups in the north of the country. Since the outbreak of this conflict, some 200,000 people have fled their homes, including approximately 100,000 who have found refuge in neighbouring like Niger, Algeria, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

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