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African Union suspends Mali following military coup

Addis Ababa , Sat, 24 Mar 2012 ANI

Addis Ababa, Mar 24 (ANI): The African Union has suspended Mali's membership following the military coup, which ousted president Amadou Toumani Tour?.

AU chairperson Jean Ping told AU Peace and Security Council that a high-level mission would be sent to Mali's capital Bamako to assess the situation.

"We have been told that the president is safe, protected by a certain number of loyalists.

The president is in Mali for sure. The assurances we are getting from those that are protecting him is that he is not far from Bamako," The Guardian quoted Ping, as saying.

His statement came after the coup that occurred before an election in which Tour? had had decided against contesting.

The situation in Bamako is being described as tense but calm, although groups of soldiers have been seen driving around and shooting in the air.

Witnesses said widespread looting has been taking place, with soldiers flagging down cars and stealing them.

"Any young man in a uniform has taken the opportunity to drive around, causing chaos and letting fire," a western journalist said.

"Things are calming down. But people still don't really know what is going on," Abdoul Karim Ba, a Malian journalist, said.

He added that the National Committee for Reestablishment of Democracy and the State (CNRDRE) had called a meeting of civil service and administration officials in the town of Kati, north of Bamako, but situation does not seem to have been resolved.

About 130,000 people are believed to have been displaced by the conflict, many of them crossing into neighbouring Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. (ANI)

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