Mali Coup Chief Says Constitution Will Be Restored

The junior officer who overthrew Mali's democratically elected leader earlier this month and dissolved the nation's constitution made a public reversal Sunday, declaring that he was reinstating the constitution and planning to hold elections.

Some normality has returned to the capital Bamako following days of looting and chaos after the coup

The junior officer who overthrew Mali's democratically elected leader earlier this month and dissolved the nation's constitution made a public reversal Sunday, declaring that he was reinstating the constitution and planning to hold elections.

Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo added that he would organize a national convention to agree on a transitional government. He did not specify when the convention would be held, when elections would take place, or if he would remain president during the transitional period.

Mali, once a model democracy, was plunged into crisis on March 21 when a mutiny erupted at a military camp in the capital of Bamako. The 30-something Sanogo quickly became their leader as they broke into the camp's armory, grabbed automatic weapons and headed for the seat of government. The coup reversed 21 years of democracy, and sent President Amadou Toumani Toure into hiding.

Sanogo's announcement Sunday came as Tuareg rebels seized control of the ancient northern city of Timbuktu, a move that deepens the crisis in the West African nation.

Mali's neighbors had given the country a 72-hour deadline to restore constitutional order, or else face crippling sanctions. Sanogo's declaration appears intended to stave off the sanctions, which were due to take effect Monday.