March 24th, 2012 | China Daily China urges Mali to protect its citizens amid a coup
China on Friday urged Malian authorities to take tangible measures to safeguard the security and lawful rights of Chinese agencies and citizens in the West African country.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a regular news briefing, in response to concerns over unrest in Mali following a coup on Thursday.
“China attaches great importance to the security of Chinese agencies and citizens in Mali,” said Hong, noting the Foreign Ministry has issued a security alert on its website.
The spokesman said the Chinese Embassy in Mali has been contacting Chinese agencies and citizens in the country and reminding them to strengthen security.
“So far, China has not received casualty reports of Chinese citizens,” he added.
The National Committee for Redressment of Democracy and Restoration of the State announced through Malian radio and television at 4:40 am local time on Thursday that they had toppled Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure.
“China has been closely following the situation in Mali,” said Hong, noting that China opposes the anti-constitutional seizure of power from the democratically elected government.
He called on relevant parties in Mali to proceed based on the fundamental interests of the nation and its people, and restore order as soon as possible, so as to safeguard its national stability.
The UN Security Council on Thursday condemned the coup in Mali while top officials said fallout from the Libya civil war had increased the frustration of rebels who ousted the president.
Security Council members “strongly condemn the forcible seizure of power from the democratically-elected government of Mali by some elements of the Malian armed forces”, said a council statement.
The 15-nation body called on the rebels “to ensure the safety and security of President Amadou Toumani Toure and to return to their barracks”.
The council demanded “the release of all detained Malian officials” and the “immediate restoration of constitutional rule and the democratically elected government”, said the statement read to reporters by Britain’s UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the council president for March.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the coup and called on its leaders “to refrain from any actions that could increase violence and further destabilize the country”.
The UN’s political chief said there was a link between the uprising against Muammar Gadhafi last year and the Mali coup.
Ethnic Tuaregs who fought with Gadhafi returned to Mali and joined the Tuareg rebellion against the government, said UN assistant secretary general B. Lynn Pascoe.
“Of course there is a relationship because many of the Tuaregs had gone to Libya because there they could earn more money working in the military,” Pascoe told reporters.