WASHINGTON — The United States warned Friday that around $70 million in US military and economic aid to Mali was at risk if military coup leaders fail to restore democratic rule in the country.
Since renegade soldiers proclaimed Thursday they had ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup, the United States has condemned the violence but expressed hope the "military action" could be reversed.
Unlike the European Commission, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, which have all suspended development aid to Mali, the United States has not taken immediate steps to cut off assistance.
But State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland warned "any US assistance to the government of Mali beyond what we give for humanitarian purposes is at risk if we cannot... get back to a democratic situation in the country."
Nuland told reporters that around $70 million is for food and other humanitarian purposes while another $70 million covers military, economic and development assistance.
In the meantime, she said the United States -- following consultations among US agencies, African leaders and contacts in Mali -- has decided to support west African efforts to restore democratic rule in Bamako.
Heads of state from the 15-member Economic Community of West African States are due to meet in Abidjan on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Mali, and Nuland expected an ECOWAS mission to visit Mali afterward.
"We will continue to consult with ECOWAS as they evaluate the best way forward and provide our technical expertise as well," she said.
"We are working with them on their ideas for how to bring the parties back together."
The government will have to address grievances the mutineers had over how the military was being trained and equipped to deal with a Tuareg rebellion in the north.
"There's going to have to be some mediation between the government and the military," Nuland said as she expressed concern over the security vacuum in the country.
The coup in Bamako opened the way for Tuareg rebels to deepen their hold on the north, and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad said it had seized the town of Anefis between the key cities of Gao and Kidal.
"This is precisely the point that we are trying to make to the mutineers in this case: that the only constituency at the moment that has clearly benefited from the action they... have taken are the Tuaregs," said Nuland.
Expressing concern about the presence of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb militants in Mali, Nuland said she did not know whether US counter-terrorism officials in the country were able to continue their cooperation in the last two days.
She said the US embassy in Bamako is trying to contact the coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo.
The spokeswoman said Washington understands that Toure "is still in Mali, that he is safe, that he is being protected by some of the forces loyal to the democratically-elected government."
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