Africa
2:00 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

After Military Coup, Sanctions Cripple Mali

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Now to West Africa where regional leaders have imposed crippling sanctions on Mali and closed its borders. The measures are aimed to force the leaders of last month's coup to hand over power. And with the separatist rebellion sweeping across the northern half of the country, many Malians feel under siege. They're anticipating shortages, price hikes and more political instability. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from the capital, Bamako.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: I'm at a gas station, and there are just lines and lines of cars, people looking a little bit fraught, a little bit tired, and I'm just going to speak to a gentleman here who's in his car waiting to fill up, it seems. (Foreign Language Spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Foreign Language Spoken)

QUIST-ARCTON: OK. So you think you're going to be able to get diesel here? (Foreign language spoken) And why is everybody having to queue for so long?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Through translator) It's all because of these regional sanctions and the border closures to stop imported fuel from coming in. ECOWAS hasn't lifted one little finger for Mali in all these years, yet Mali has been on peacekeeping missions in Liberia and all over West Africa. No one wants to help us now that we've got problems. We're waiting for our real friends. But we'll cope. Believe me, we'll cope.

QUIST-ARCTON: ECOWAS is the Economic Community of West African States. The frustration and anger expressed by Sidibe Kabunai is widely felt among residents in Mali's capital. The soldiers who seized power two weeks ago were told by West African presidents to step down and return Mali to constitutional rule. The coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, today announced a national consultative convention, including politicians and civil society, to start Thursday. He told NPR as much on Sunday at his military headquarters just outside the capital.

CAPTAIN AMADOU HAYA SANOGO: The time frame I prefer, you know, in the coming days, while I have these meeting with all, you know, all national civil society, the religious and everyone, so we're going to decide together.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Foreign language spoken).

QUIST-ARCTON: Sunday, when the junta reinstated the constitution, it also restored all national institutions. And legislators in the national assembly gathered yesterday for the first time since the coup. Arguments were heated and mostly about security issues, from the nomadic Tuareg rebellion's control of most of the desert north to the pros and cons of the coup, which toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Foreign language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken).

QUIST-ARCTON: Honorable Kadiatou Traore says she's ready to go to the battlefront, i.e. she's backing Mali's beleaguered new military government.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (Foreign language spoken).

QUIST-ARCTON: Others debated the use of force to seize power. The soldiers who toppled the president claimed he didn't provide the army with the necessary resources to fight the northern rebels. That same argument has been raging among the general public. But with sanctions now in force, Malians are focusing on having enough cash to weather what many anticipate will be stormy weeks ahead. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Bamako. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.