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Mali protesters demand president’s resignation over jihadist conflict, economy

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A mass protest in Mali against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita descended into violence on Friday as protesters blocked main thoroughfares, attacked the parliament and stormed the premises of a state broadcaster.

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One person was killed during the protest in the capital Bamako, officials said.

The protest, organised by a new opposition coalition, is the third such demonstration in two months – significantly escalating pressure on the embattled president.

Thousands initially gathered in a central square to demand the president resign over the country's long-running jihadist conflict and economic woes.

They then rallied outside the parliament and in the courtyard of a state broadcaster.

The anti-Keita protest has alarmed the international community, which is keen to avoid the fragile West African state sliding into chaos.

Led by influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, the so-called June 5 movement is channelling deep-seated frustrations, heaping pressure on Keita, who unsuccessfully floated political reforms this week in a bid to appease opponents.

Many protesters on Friday carried placards bearing anti-government slogans and blowing vuvuzela horns, AFP reporters saw.

"We don't want this regime any more," said one of the demonstrators, Sy Kadiatou Sow.

Protesters later erected barricades and set tyres alight on two of the main bridges across the river Niger that runs through Bamako, according to AFP journalists, and entered the courtyard of state broadcaster ORTM.

National guardsmen also fired tear gas at protesters hurling stones at the parliament building.

Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the centre of the country and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homRead More – Source