Editor's Note: Jennifer G. Cooke is director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
By Jennifer G. Cooke, CSIS
Disgruntled junior army officers have seized control of the presidential palace and state broadcasting apparatus in the West African country of Mali, declaring a coup d’état against the government of President Amadou Toumani Touré. Calling themselves the National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR), the soldiers have denounced the government’s incompetence, most notably its failure to respond effectively to an ongoing insurrection led by Tuareg rebels in the country’s north. The coup leaders have announced the suspension of the constitution, the closure of the country’s borders, and the imposition of a nationwide curfew. President Touré has reportedly taken refuge in an army barracks in Bamako, protected by loyalist presidential guards.
The coup, if it is ultimately successful, will be a major setback to Mali’s political development and a blow to the country’s hard-won reputation as a strong West African democracy. The country has earned widespread praise for the consolidation of democratic institutions, economic reform, and free and fair elections over the last 20 years, this despite being one of the world’s poorest and least economically developed countries. FULL POST