Capt. Amadou Sanogo, the leader of the ongoing military coup in Mali, announced Friday he has no intention of retaining his hold on power. Sanogo claims he will hold presidential elections once he ensures the military is equipped to combat Tuareg anti-government forces in Mali’s restive north. “We are not here to confiscate any power but we are here to have an army and security forces available to assume the nation security,” Sanogo told the BBC. “So once this has been fixed, I’ll be able to say ‘Ok, go for an election’ in a short period of time. I promise.” Sanogo also told reporters that democratically-elected President Amadou Toumani Toure and members of the government are safe and have not been harmed. “These people are safe and sound. We will not touch a hair on their heads. I will hand them over to the courts so that the Malian people know the truth,” he said.
Malian soldiers angered over the government’s mishandling of the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in the North say they have overthrown President Amadou Toumani Toure – just weeks before the election that would have marked an end to his mandate. The president’s location is unknown. Frustration had long been brewing in the military in what had been one of the region’s few stable democracies. Residents told VOA that sporadic gunfire continued in Bamako Thursday just hours after renegade soldiers – calling themselves the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State – or CNRDR, seized control of the state.