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Mali coup leader says sorry: military source
by Staff Writers
Bamako (AFP) June 26, 2013

Mozambique army chief fired amid rebel unrest
Maputo (AFP) June 26, 2013 - Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza has fired his army chief, his office said Wednesday, amid escalating tensions with former rebels.

Guebuza dismissed Paulino Jose Macaringue "as head of the general staff of the defence forces of Mozambique," the government said in a communique.

No explanation was given for the axing. He was replaced by ruling party Frelimo loyalist and former independence fighter Graca Tomas Chongo.

Mozambique is currently gripped by fears of a return to conflict with Frelimo's former civil war foes, Renamo, after guerrilla-style attacks on civil vehicles.

The attacks took place in the central Sofala province while military and police are stationed in large numbers around the bush camp where Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is holed up.

Three weeks ago, Macaringue was the victim of a brazen robbery that caused embarrassment for the government.

Thieves attacked the army chief in the capital and made off with his car, three guns and his laptop leading to fears state secrets might end up in the wrong hands.

Despite the army shake-up, Guebuza announced he was keeping on the vice army chief, Olimpio Cambona, the highest-ranking Renamo member in the army, whom he appointed in 2008.

One of Renamo's main complaints against the Frelimo led government is over the promised integration of its armed forces into the national army.

Former junta chief Amadou Sanogo asked for the forgiveness of the Malian people on Wednesday for a coup which destabilised the west African nation, an army spokesman told AFP.

The soldier "apologised to the people of Mali" at a ceremony of reconciliation between rival factions of the army at the presidential palace in Bamako, said Souleymane Maiga.

Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore also attended the event, along with representatives of various religious communities in Mali.

Sanogo, a captain in the Malian army, overthrew the regime of president Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup in March last year, a move which led to the fall of the country's north to armed Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda and a Franco-African intervention to flush out the insurgents from the region since January.

The coup deepened a schism in the army between the Red Berets, loyal to Toure, and the Green Berets, who were broadly pro-junta.

In May last year the Red Berets attempted a failed counter-coup and tried to seize the airport, national broadcaster and a military barracks that has become the headquarters of the ex-junta.

They were disbanded after the failure of the action and a number of them went missing after being detained by security forces.

After further violence in February, Prime Minister Diango Cissoko held discussions with all parties involved in the crisis in the Malian armed forces, which led to the decision to restructure the Red Berets and restore calm.

The president announced at the ceremony that all soldiers arrested had been released, an aide of Traore said under condition of anonymity.


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