Somehow it seems less incongruous to hear about a president getting ousted than to hear about one getting beaten up, as happened to Mali's interim chief executive Dioncounda Traore on Monday. It's just so un-presidential to get knocked out and your clothes torn off, as Reuters' Adama Diarra reports protesters did to Traore when they stormed the presidential palace. Traore wound up with minor head wounds, The BBC reports, and he's out of the hospital, recovering at his residence.
But the clash is about more than the undignified handling of a head of state. The Christian Science Monitor's Scott Baldauf provides some of the best perspective, explaining that Traore had been installed by the military junta that carried out a coup there in March. "Protesters at the scene voiced support for the military junta, but not with the interim president chosen by the junta," wrote Baldauf. "While it’s hard to gauge how broadly the March 22 coup was supported, today's attacks on Traore do show some measure of support for the military junta, and they cast doubt on West African-backed plans for a transition of power from the current interim government, following future elections."
The soldiers who carried out the coup initially did so out of frustration with the government's lack of action against Tuareg rebels in the North. Now they're trying to negotiate a handover of power with the West African bloc ECOWAS, but without a democratic government in place, Traore was set for a renewal of his mandate, which ended Monday. If Traore suffered damage to his head and his pride in the clash, some of the protesters came out a lot worse. Traore's security force reportedly killed three of them as they stormed the palace tearing up photos of Traore.