Mar. 24 - Mali’s coup leaders struggle for support as a coalition of politicians condemn the action and Tuareg rebels take advantage of the confusion to advance. Nick Rowlands reports.
Speaking from Mauritania, a spokesman for the Tuareg-led rebels fighting for independence from Mali said they are willing to negotiate with the leaders of the coup that overthrew Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure on Thursday. (SOUNDBITE) (French) HAMA AG MAHMOUD, MEMBER OF MNLA POLITICAL BUREAU SAYING: "We are ready to negotiate but there are conditions - the incumbent president must be well established, representative and have the political class behind him; and we must have guarantees from big country powers, like the European Union, the United States, and France." Thursday's coup was led by officers angry at the government's handling of the Tuareg separatist rebellion in the north of Mali. But as soldiers struggle to solidify their control of the capital Bamako, the Tuareg rebels have taken advantage of the confusion to push south. The spokesman stressed the rebels had no ambitions other than occupying the three northern regions of Mali. But in the capital, Bamako, initial support for the coup already seems to be waning. Campaigning for presidential elections scheduled for next month was already underway, and a coalition of ten political parties issued a statement that "condemns forceful takeover which is a major setback for our democracy." (SOUNDBITE)(French) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IBRAHIM BOUBAKAR KEITA, SAYING: "The constitutional order should be immediately re-established. The electoral calendar must be maintained and the elections must take place on the initial date." The coup has been condemned internationally. The African Union has suspended Mali's membership but says ousted President Toure is safe. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.