Anti-govt. protesters in Mali break into national broadcaster


Mali’s state television has gone off-air on Friday after hundreds of protesters demanding the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita occupied its building.

The rally in Bamako descended into chaos as protesters tried to occupy key buildings including the national assembly and the state broadcasting house.

Police have fired shots and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators – the third rally in a month over a rise in jihadist violence, an economic crisis and disputed legislative elections.

A new opposition coalition led by the conservative Imam, Mahmoud Dicko, this week said it had dropped its demand for President Keita to step down.

But it is still insisting on further reforms after rejecting concessions from the Malian president including the formation of a unity government.

Thousands of protesters have been out on the streets of Bamako, the BBC’s Africa regional editor Will Ross reports.

Some of them briefly made it into the building of the national broadcaster, ORTM, which was then forced off air. Roads were blocked with burning barricades.

Some looting has taken place and there are reports of young men trying to break into the national assembly.

Two sources told the Reuters news agency that at least one person was killed outside the assembly.

This demonstration is the third since June.

Protests started after the opposition coalition rejected concessions from President Keita designed to end a political stand-off over a disputed legislative election in March.

The opposition this week said the movement had dropped its demand for President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita to step down. But it still called this protest because it wants more reforms.

Keita secured a second five-year term in 2018 but he has faced increased opposition over a rise in jihadist violence and an economic crisis.

Malians will hope this instability does not play into the hands of the jihadists who are behind the escalating violence in the north and centre of the country. (Source: BBC)