British embassy in Mali withdraws staff over military coup

Foreign Office says temporary measure taken for Bamako staff due to country’s ‘unstable and unpredictable situation’

Staff are being withdrawn from the British embassy in Mali in the wake of the military coup.

The Foreign Office said the temporary measure would limit the UK’s ability to help Britons who chose to remain in the Saharan state against official advice.

A spokesman said: “Given the unstable and unpredictable situation in Mali and the continuing lack of constitutional rule, the UK has decided to temporarily withdraw its staff from its embassy in Bamako and temporarily suspend all in-country services immediately, including consular assistance.

“Consular assistance will continue to be provided to British nationals from our embassy in Dakar (in neighbouring Senegal) but the UK’s ability to help British nationals who chose to remain in Mali may become limited.

“We have recommended since 4 April that British nationals should leave Mali as soon as possible by commercial means.”

Mali’s Tuareg rebels, who seized control of the country’s north in the chaotic aftermath of the coup, have declared independence for what they called the Azawad nation. They have been fighting for independence for the northern half of Mali for decades.

The 21 March coup in the distant capital of Bamako toppled Mali’s elected government.

In a three-day period last weekend Tuareg fighters seized the three largest cities in the north, as soldiers dumped their uniforms and fled. Their declaration of independence cited 50 years of misrule by the country’s southern-based administration and was issued by the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, or NMLA, whose army is led by a Tuareg colonel who fought in the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s military.

The group is secular and its stated aim is creating a homeland for the Tuareg people. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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