March 23 - Army captain who led Mali coup says president is safe and officials are unharmed, while the UN Security Council condemns the mutiny. Michaela Cabrera reports.
This is the presidential palace in Mali, in the wake of a coup by renegade soldiers who seized power on Thursday. In an interview broadcast by state television, the army captain who led the mutiny says President Amadou Toumani Toure is safe, but declined to say where he is. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CAPTAIN AMADOU SANOGO, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR THE RETURN OF DEMOCRACY AND THE RESTORATION OF THE STATE (CNRDR), SAYING: "He is okay. He is safe. Our objective, since yesterday, is not to hurt anyone, no matter who he is." Officials in Toure's camp and diplomats believe the president is being protected by a pocket of loyalist soldiers. Captain Sanogo said the other officials were also unharmed. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CAPTAIN AMADOU SANOGO, PRESIDENT OF THE CNRDR, SAYING: "I will assure you we will not harm the physical integrity of anyone, but I will assure you that while I am in charge of this movement and, in conjunction with civil society, they will face competent authorities in full view of the Malian people." The U.N. Security Council condemned the coup. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARK LYALL GRANT, UNITED KINGDOM'S U.N. AMBASSADOR AND ACTING SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT, SAYING: "The members of the Security Council strongly condemns the forcible seizure of power from the democratically elected government of Mali by some elements of the Malian armed forces. They call on these elements to insure the safety and security of President Amadou Toumani Toure and to return to their barracks. They demand the release of all detained Malian officials." Low-ranking soldiers said they seized power because of the government's failure to stamp out a separatist rebellion in the north of the country. Mali was due to hold a first round of elections on the 29th of April. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LYNN PASCOE, UNITED NATIONS UNDERSECRETARY FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS, SAYING: "There's nothing particularly good that can come out of overturning an elected president about a month or six weeks before a new election is supposed to take place and putting the two main candidates in jail. Not in jail necessarily but in military barracks and holding them." Security in Mali had been vulnerable well before the mutiny, with a growing Islamist threat, a Tuareg-led rebellion, a food crisis, and a huge influx of weapons following the war in Libya. Michaela Cabrera, Reuters.