Mali’s coup leader pledged on Sunday to immediately begin a return to civilian rule. In a brief statement, Captain Amadou Sanogo said he would re-establish the country’s 1992 constitution and its state institutions.
The decision comes after recent gains by Tuareg and Islamist rebels in northern Mali in the last three days. On Sunday, Timbuktu became the latest town to come under attack after rebels took the towns of Gao and Kidal in just two days.
Mali’s neighbours demanded the military cede power by midnight on Sunday, threatening sanctions if the new regime didn’t comply.
“I’m frustrated – it seems like Mali has been abandoned by its neighbouring countries,” said one shop owner in the capital Bamako. “Mali has been attacked by Islamists, who some people call terrorists. I’m saddened by it.”
Mali’s military overthrew the government on March 21 in frustration at attempts to confront the northern insurgency. But analysts said the plot seems to have backfired.