Mali protest leader calls for calm after demonstrations turn deadly

Mali protest leader calls for calm after demonstrations turn deadly

A Malian protest leader called for calm Sunday after four more people were killed during demonstrations calling for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s resignation, the West African country’s worst civil unrest in years.

Bloody demonstrations rocked the capital Bamako on Friday and Saturday, with witnesses saying that security forces fired live rounds during clashes with protesters.

The atmosphere remained tense on the streets of Bamako on Sunday, as hundreds of people converged on the Badalabougou district for the funerals of four people killed in the violence.

In the face of the heightened tensions, Keita had announced he would dissolve the poor Sahel country’s constitutional court, the focus of anger since it overturned provisional results for parliamentary elections earlier this year.

Protests in several cities on Friday descended into violence in which at least three people were killed.

Fresh clashes broke out on Saturday as protesters took to the streets of Bamako, angered by a long-running jihadist conflict, economic woes and perceived government corruption.

Six opposition figures have been detained in recent days, of whom one was released late Saturday, as the government cracked down on the June 5 Movement, an opposition alliance tapping into the deep-seated nationwide frustration. But the lawyer Alfifa Habib Kone said around 20 opposition members had been arrested since Friday.

On Sunday, hundreds crowded around the mosque, walking over spent bullet shells, rubble and the remains of torched tires. Opposition leaders who have not yet been arrested now appear to be in hiding.

Fearing that Dicko might be arrested like other leaders of the movement, his supporters erected barricades on Sunday “in case the police return,” one of them said.

Clashes have also been reported outside the home of the constitutional court’s president Manassa Danioko, a focus of public anger.