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Mali parliament approves amnesty for coup leaders

Malian military junta leader Amadou Sanogo (C) arrives at  Bamako airport (© 2009 AFP)

The parliament in Mali on Friday passed a law granting amnesty to the leaders of the March coup that plunged what was considered one of Africa’s democratic success stories into chaos.

The text, which must be signed by the president before becoming law, was part of an agreement signed by the putschists and west African bloc ECOWAS on April 6 to restore constitutional order in the country. It was passed by the 122 deputies present in the national assembly, according to an AFP reporter.

The amnesty covers the period from March 21, the day before the coup toppled then-president Amadou Toumani Toure’s government, to April 12, the day interim president Dioncounda Traore took office, according to a parliament document obtained by AFP.

The list of acts exempted from prosecution includes “mutiny, attacking internal state security, attacking external state security, destruction of property… violence and assault, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, looting” and other crimes.

An amendment adopted by lawmakers said the law covers both the putschists and those who opposed them.

The amnesty law comes amid a political impasse in Mali, where the leaders of the coup still wield great influence despite officially handing power over to Traore’s transitional government.

The putschists refuse to see Traore stay in office more than 40 days, beyond May 22.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which mediated the return to civilian rule, planned for Traore to lead a 12-month transition that would pave the way for new elections.

ECOWAS on Friday accused the putschists of blocking efforts to restore constitutional rule.

Ministers from the regional bloc are due to hold new talks on Mali and Guinea-Bissau, also struggling to restore order after an April 12 coup, in Abidjan on Saturday.

Islamist and Tuareg rebel groups in Mali took advantage of the power vacuum created by the coup to seize the vast desert north of the country, effectively splitting it in two.

Signature : BAMAKO (AFP)

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