mali president tour.jpgMali’s President Amadou Touré told French broadcaster Radio France Internationale (RFI) on Wednesday that he was free and unharmed in the capital Bamako, in his first interview since the 22 March coup d’état that removed him from power.

 

Touré, who was planning to step down after elections in April, said “I am not a prisoner of the junta, I am free in my country… but the most important thing is not about my well-being. I am two months away from the end of my mandate. I think the most important thing today… is to find a way out of the crisis.”

Touré, who has been president of Mali for the last decade, was usurped last week by a military junta calling itself the National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDRE), which accuses him of failing to halt a Touareg uprising the north of the country.

“I spent the entire day under rocket fire, rockets launched by tanks and soldiers,” he said in the interview. “All kinds of rockets were launched on my office, my home, and my family. According to an eyewitness, there is nothing left. It is completely burnt.”

The international community has been unanimous in its condemnation of the CNRDRE coup, while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) temporarily suspended Mali in an emergency summit on Tuesday.

ECOWAS leaders said they were looking at “all options” to restore order in the country and that a delegation of four heads of state, led by Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, would be in Bamako by Friday.

“I have been following the Ecowas summit with interest,” Touré told RFI. “”I completely agree with the proposal made by the African heads of state in order to get our country out of this crisis.”

Touré refused to say whether he still considers himself president of the country, but said he was “open to any solution that could restore peace in our country and preserve democracy in Mali.”