from RUDD KONTE in Bamako, Mali
BAMAKO, (CAJ News) – TRIGGER-happy security forces and unruly opposition leaders have been equally blamed for the protests that recently left 14 people dead in Mali.
More than 3 000 civilians and security officers sustained injuries during the mayhem in the capital Bamako.
A Constitutional Court ruling that has given the ruling party a parliamentary majority, as well as high unemployment and continued instability in northern and central Mali have triggered the crisis.
There is also a perception of corruption in the West African country.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has blamed excessive use of force by security personnel to suppress the sometimes violent protests organised by the political opposition.
The leaders of the coalition of opposition parties are said to have incited their supporters, resulting in the bloodshed that also saw security forces open fire, including on passers-by.
“The recent violence in the capital (Bamako) has left in its wake an appalling procession of dead and injured,” said Corinne Dufka, Sahel director at HRW.
Dufka called for restraint among government forces and the opposition.
“To avoid the loss of more lives, they (security) should ensure that violent protests are suppressed with minimal use of force, and political parties should coerce their members to restraint.”
During the demonstrations and violence from July 10 to 12, demonstrators erected barricades, threw stones and sometimes used slingshots against security forces.
They set on fire and partly looted government buildings and threatened to attack a judge’s home.
Security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to dismantle barricades and disperse protesters.
Five opposition leaders were arrested and have since been released.
– CAJ News