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Mozambique police fire tear gas at anti-conscription protest
by Staff Writers
Maputo (AFP) Nov 27, 2013

Mali coup leader charged with murder: judicial source
Bamako (AFP) Nov 27, 2013 - Amadou Sanogo, leader of a 2012 coup that plunged Mali into chaos, was on Wednesday charged with murder and complicity to murder and placed in detention, a judicial source said.

Investigating judge Yaya Karembe ordered his arrest and charged him at a hearing in the capital Bamako, the source said, just hours after several dozen Malian soldiers forcibly entered Sanogo's residence in the city centre to arrest him.

Sanogo was also charged with kidnapping, said the source, adding that "no one is above the law". "Other people" close to Sanogo would be questioned shortly, he said.

Sanogo was ordered in October to answer questions about deaths that occurred during a mutiny against him at his former headquarters in the central town of Kati, near Bamako.

He ignored the summons, sparking indignation among Malian politicians and activists.

Sanogo was controversially promoted from captain to lieutenant-general in August, prompting fellow ex-junta members also seeking promotion to mutiny at his Kati barracks, and forcing the army to intervene.

The bodies of three missing soldiers were subsequently discovered in and around the barracks and around 20 officers, including Sanogo's former deputy, were arrested.

Sanogo led a group of mid-level officers to overthrow then-president Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 last year, upending what had been considered one of west Africa's flagship democracies.

The coup precipitated the fall of northern Mali to militants linked to Al-Qaeda, but an intervention by French and African troops in January chased the rebels from the region's main cities.

In the months that followed the March coup, the Kati barracks were the site of numerous atrocities allegedly committed by his men against military considered loyal to the ousted president.

In May last year, Sanogo and his former junta were granted a general amnesty and the captain received the status of former head of state, with all the accompanying benefits.

That status was later withdrawn, but Sanogo then leapt from the rank of captain to general in August.

Human Rights Watch described his promotion as a "shameful act" and argued the former captain should have been investigated for alleged involvement in torture.

Sanogo last month left the barracks in Kati to move into a new residence in the capital.

Police fired tear gas Wednesday to disperse youths rioting in central Mozambique after reports of forced conscription as the military battles a revived rebel group, a rights group and residents said.

Security forces clashed with protesters in central city Beira, according to the Human Rights League (LDH).

"There is a revolt on the part of the population. The police have been using tear gas," LDH representative Helder Jafar told AFP.

There were "many injuries and arrests", he added.

Residents confirmed police fired tear gas in several outlying neighbourhoods of Beira while protesters threw stones at a police station.

"There are barricades in the streets and cars are being burnt," said Stella Santos, who lives in Manga, one of the affected Beira neighbourhoods.

"They say they (the military) are conscripting the young people," she told AFP.

Local newspapers reported that the military was going from door to door forcibly conscripting youngsters to fight against a revived Renamo insurgency elsewhere in the central Sofala province.

Some Beira residents who asked to remain anonymous told AFP that the conscription was a "fact", and that the military used "kidnappings" to increase its numbers.

"The population is furious. They want to burn any car that passes through the city," said a student.

Three neighbourhoods were believed to have been affected.

Authorities slammed the reports as "a rumour aimed at discrediting this sacred, patriotic duty to the fatherland by the youth".

"It is not true that the National Defence Ministry or other security forces are undertaking forced recruitment for military service," the department said in a statement.

Though Mozambican law allows for involuntary conscription of youths aged 18 years and above, in practice, anyone who does not wish to serve can get out of the draft if they provide a justification.

The 13 000-strong force is therefore almost exclusively staffed with volunteers as a soldier's stipend is enticement for many of the country's poor, unemployed youths.

Since April this year the army has waged ongoing battles against Renamo guerrillas around 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Beira in the Gorongosa district, as well as around the town of Muxungue to the south.

The Beira protests come just a week after the candidate for opposition party the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) was elected mayor in local elections.

The city is only the second not controlled by the ruling Frelimo party.


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