Thousands of supporters took to the streets of Bamako on Wednesday, backing the military coup that forced President Amadou Toumani Toure into hiding.
As demonstrators marched through the capital, they shouted “victory” and other slogans against western powers who have denounced last week’s actions – particularly France.
There is sympathy for the cause, after the renegade troops turned against Toure when they felt he was not handling an attempt to breakaway from the country by ethnic Tuaregs in the north.
“Our children die up in the north and we don’t want Toure anymore, not today, not tomorrow. He should just leave the road open for us,” said one wife of a soldier.
Troops complained of not having equipment to fight the Tuaregs, but Malians are ready to defend their country to the last drop of blood even if it means taking up arms, according to another protester.
“Only we know how we are living here, in poverty and misery, and we’ve had enough,” he added.
Meanwhile, west African power bloc ECOWAS is searching for a diplomatic solution, possibly backed up with military force. A delegation of six leaders of countries in the region is meeting with the junta’s leaders in Bamako to pressure them to end the coup.