Mali anti-government rally turns violent

Thousands of demonstrators rally in Bamako to demand security and economic reforms in the country.

Iran PressAfrica: A large anti-government demonstration in Mali has descended into chaos as protesters tried to occupy buildings including the national assembly, the national broadcasting house, and two major bridges, while police fired tear gas to disperse them.

The protest against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, organized by an opposition coalition, is the third such demonstration in two months - significantly escalating pressure on the embattled leader.

Thousands initially gathered in a square in the capital, Bamako, on Friday to demand Keita resigns over the country's long-running security issues, economic woes, and perceived government corruption.

Led by influential scholar Mahmoud Dicko, the so-called June 5 movement is channeling deep-seated frustrations in the war-torn West African state.

Keita this week unsuccessfully floated political reforms in a bid to appease opponents but did not concede to demands from the political opposition to dissolve the parliament and form a transition government.

Leaders of the protest had called on supporters to occupy buildings including the prime minister's office and other locations at the start of a civil disobedience campaign aimed at forcing Keita to resign.

Mali's national television ORTM went off the air on Friday after hundreds of protesters entered the broadcaster's building in the capital.

Mali has been in turmoil since Tuareg rebels and loosely-allied militants took over the northern desert regions from the Malian military control in 2012. The ensuing power vacuum allowed extremists linked to al-Qaeda to dominate the territory. 207/216

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