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Mar 22 2012
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United States condemns Mali coup, Mali rebels say preparing new advance

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United States condemns Mali coup, Mali rebels say preparing new advance

The United States on Thursday strongly condemned a violent coup by renegade Malian soldiers and demanded the return of civilian rule to the West African gold and cotton-producing nation.    
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"We call for the immediate restoration of constitutional rule in Mali, including full civilian authority over the armed forces and respect for the country's democratic institutions and traditions," the White House said in a statement.
It was reported earlier that nomad-led rebels in the north of Mali said they would exploit confusion caused by a coup attempt in the capital Bamako to make new advances in their campaign to carve out a northern homeland.   

"The situation (in Bamako) will allow us to take advantage of the chaos to gain more ground," Moussa Ag Acharatoumane, a Paris-based spokesman for the MNLA rebellion said by telephone.    

Asked when they would seek to advance on key northern towns such as Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao, he said: "I don't think it will be long. We are preparing this."

Mutinous Malian soldiers have closed all the borders of the West African country hours after declaring they seized power, a spokesman for the group announced on state television.    

"We declare all land and air borders with neighboring countries closed," Lieutenant Amadou Konare, spokesman for the newly-formed National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR), said.    

It was not immediately possible to verify if the mutiny had sufficient support to ensure the closure of all borders to a land-locked country twice the size of France.

Earlier, a Reuters correspondent said the airport in the capital Bamako had been sealed off by police rather than renegade soldiers.

On another note, Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour reassured that the Lebanese diaspora in Mali is fine and that no Lebanese nationals were harmed in the latest turmoil witnessed in the Northwest African country.

Mansour contacted concerned officials in Mali early Thursday afternoon to check on the status of Lebanese expatriates there.  

Reuters/LBCI     
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