August 29, 2013 / 1:11 PM / 4 years ago

Mali coup leader removed as head of military reform

Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo attends a ceremony as former parliament speaker Dioncounda Traore (unseen) is sworn in as Mali's interim president in the captial Bamako, April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Malin Palm

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali’s interim government has removed General Amadou Sanogo, who led a coup last year, as head of a military committee tasked with reforming the West African country’s armed forces, a government statement said.

The removal gives a clean slate to president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, elected by a landslide in an August 11 runoff. Sanogo had remained influential behind the scenes after the March 2012 coup which plunged Mali into crisis.

Tuareg rebels and their al Qaeda-linked Islamist allies took advantage of the chaos following the coup to rout Mali’s army and seize the northern two-thirds of the landlocked nation. A massive French military intervention launched in January broke the rebels’ grip over northern Mali.

After agreeing to step aside, Sanogo, then still a captain, was appointed by Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traore to head a committee tasked with reforming the Malian army.

“Interim President Dioncounda Traore repealed the decree appointing General Amadou Haya Sanogo head of the monitoring committee for the reform of the defence forces and security,” said a statement issued after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

In a surprise move, the interim government had promoted Sanogo on August 14 to a four-star general, angering human rights campaigners who accused his military junta of arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances.

Western diplomats said the promotion was designed to usher Sanogo into retirement.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Daniel Flynn

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