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The whereabouts of Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure are unknown. On Wednesday, mutinying soldiers stormed the Presidential palace in the capital Bamako and seized power. The soldiers are angry at the government's handling of the Toureg-led northern rebellion that has killed hundreds and forced nearly 200 thousand people to flee their homes.
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20 years of democratic rule came to an end with this broadcast on Malian state television on Thursday by a spokesman for the soldiers, who described themselves as the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State.
Cnrdr spokesman Amadou Konare said: "The institution is suspended until further notice, all institutions of the republic are dissolved until further notice."
Captain Amadou Sanogo, whose title was given as president of the newly formed CNRDR, also appeared on state television to urge calm and condemn any pillaging. Mali has experienced growing instability in recent months as Tuareg fighters seeking an autonomous state in the north have made advances, including the seizure this month of the key garrison town of Tessalit by the Algerian border. Speaking to CCTV on phone from Bamako this afternoon, Kenya's foreign minister Moses Wetangula who was attending an African union meeting in the capital says President Amadou Toure is believed to have fled the palace as mutinous soldiers stormed it.The unrest began on Wednesday as the country's defence minister started a tour of military barracks north of the capital.
Soldiers fired in the air during the inspection, prompting an immediate strengthening of security around the presidential palace. A nationwide curfew in force and mali's airspace and borders have been shut to the outside world. Meanwhile the economic community of west African states has warned it will resist any attempt to obtain or maintain power by unconstitutional means.