U.S.: Mali political situation 'fluid'

Aug. 30, 2012 at 12:02 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- "Fluid political conditions" in Mali prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a warning to its citizens to avoid traveling to the country.

A military coup in early 2011 toppled the civilian government in Mali. Rebel military leaders had expressed frustration with the inability to handle an insurgency in the north of the country, though militants and al-Qaida allies have since taken control over that part of Mali.

"The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Mali at this time because of fluid political conditions, the loss of government control of Mali's northern provinces and continuing threats of attacks and kidnappings of Westerners in the north of the country," a warning read.

Valerie Amos, the humanitarian relief coordinator for the United Nations, wrapped up her visit to the country Thursday. A unity government was formed last weekend in Bamako, though Amos said international support was needed to help the country tackle multiple crises, the BBC reports.

Members of the Economic Community of West African States have tried to broker a settlement with Islamic rebels in control of northern Mali. The African body said it had 3,000-member standby force ready should negotiations fail to reach a settlement, however.

The State Department said demonstrators in Bamako in mid-August rallied for peace, but Westerners were advised to avoid political gatherings.

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