Danish development aid to the western African country of Mali has been suspended following a military coup in the capital of Bamako on Wednesday.
According to reports, a separatist group has closed the country's borders and taken control of the media, the presidential palace and the airport, leading the Danish government to freeze the 215 million kroner in aid the country was due to receive this year.
The development minister, Christian Friis Bach, happens to be visiting countries bordering Mali and wrote in a press release that the coup only added to the country’s woes.
“Mali is a very poor country in a region facing a range of economic, environmental and security issues. These issues were made worse by a food shortage this year. The military coup in Mali makes the situation even more fragile and we in Denmark are following the situation closely.”
The coup is linked to an ongoing conflict in north Mali where the separatist group, Mouvement National de Liberation de ‘Azawad (MNLA) has been fighting for an independent country for the Toureg people.
The conflict has been intensifying in recent months as heavily armed members of the MNLA returned from Libya and started attacking villages.
After freezing the aid, the government pledged 10 million kroner to support the work of the UN’s refugee agency, UNCHR, which is helping the over 160,000 people who have fled the country as a result of the conflict.
Discontent with the situation in the north of the country is reportedly the motivation for members of the Malian army, headed by Captain Amadou Sanogo, to topple the government and put in its place the newly formed National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR).
"The CNRDR … has decided to assume its responsibilities by putting an end to the incompetent regime of Amadou Toumani Touré," spokesman, Amadou Konare, said according to the Guardian. "We promise to hand power back to a democratically elected president as soon as the country is reunified and its integrity is no longer threatened."
The Foreign Ministry reports that the fate of the country’s former president, Amadou Toumani Touré, is unknown though 14 government ministers are thought to be under arrest.
International condemnation quickly followed the coup, with France cutting ties and the UN and US calling for the Malian military to reinstate the constitution, a call echoed by the foreign minister, Villy Søvndal.
“I strongly condemn all attempts to assume power through non-democratic means and I call on all parties to put down their weapons.” Søvndal told the Ritzau news agency.
Toppled president Touré first assumed power in 1991 through a military coup. After giving up power the following year, he was elected president in 2002 and again in 2007.