|UN condemns Mali coup, World Bank stops aid|
UN Security Council demands the release of detained Malian officials and restoration of constitutional law.
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2012 00:48
The UN Security Council has condemned the coup in Mali while top officials said fallout from the Libya civil war had increased the frustration of soldiers who ousted the president.
Security Council members "strongly condemn the forcible seizure of power from the democratically-elected government of Mali by some elements of the Malian armed forces," said a council statement.
The 15-nation body called on the soldiers "to ensure the safety and security of President Amadou Toumani Toure and to return to their barracks."
The council demanded "the release of all detained Malian officials" and the "immediate restoration of constitutional rule and the democratically elected government," said the statement read to reporters by Britain's UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the council president, for March.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also condemned the coup and called on its leaders "to refrain from any actions that could increase violence and further destabilize the country."
The UN's political chief said there was a link between the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi last year and the Mali coup.
Ethnic Tuaregs who fought with Gaddafi returned to Mali and joined the Tuareg rebellion against the government, said UN assistant secretary general B. Lynn Pascoe.
"Of course there is a relationship because many of the Tuaregs had gone to Libya because there they could earn more money working in the military," Pascoe told reporters.
On returning to Mali, the ex-Gaddafi fighters and the arms they brought from Libya "clearly added more firepower and drive" to the longstanding Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.
The presence of the former Libya fighters was "one of the things which fuelled the frustration and the anger of the (Mali rebel soldiers) because they didn't think they were being supported strongly enough in the fight against the Tuaregs," Pascoe said.
The UN envoy for West Africa Said Djinnit was among foreign officials in Bamako at the time of the coup, while attending an African Union meeting.
Pascoe said Djinnit was working with West African governments and the African Union to try to end the crisis. A number of African ministers were also stuck in Bamako after the African Union meeting.
World Bank suspends aid
Meanwhile, the World Bank and the African Development Bank announced on Thursday they were suspending development aid to Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was ousted in a coup.
The two multilateral lending institutions said they were joining the African Union and the West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS in "condemning the military coup, urging a speedy resolution of the crisis and calling for the restoration of constitutional government to preserve the development gains of the country and its people."