While the junta continued to say that they had only seized power in order to address the botched military response to the rebellion, the junior officers quickly made themselves at home. Even after signing an agreement in April agreeing to step down, the junta leader continued to act as the country's de facto ruler. He held meetings with mediators from his increasingly well-equipped office inside the military barracks, where each passing week reporters saw construction crews adding new amenities, as well as pouring cement, updating the electrical wiring and hauling in new furniture.
At times it appeared that Mali had two administrations — a civilian one recognized by the international community but with little power, and a military one, with significant power but no recognition.
Although many in Mali are proud of the nation's democratic roots, a significant chunk of the population backed the putschists because of anger over the ex-leader's handling of the rebellion in the north and due to spiraling corruption.
Traore remains a divisive figure, because he was the head of the national assembly under the former president. He is seen as tainted by the cloud of corruption that hung over the former administration.
On the sidelines of the NATO summit in Chicago, French President Francois Hollande expressed concern over the violence in Mali.
"I learned during this summit that there was new unrest in Mali, and that the interim president Mr. Traore was injured," he said. "I reaffirm here that the process that ECOWAS initiated needs to be followed. And the legitimate leaders of the country need to be respected."
Associated Press staffer Rukmini Callimachi in Dakar, Senegal and Jamey Keaten in Chicago contributed to this report.
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