Mali's US-trained coup leader said Saturday he is in control of the country, has no fears of a countercoup and wants peace talks with the rebels whose northern rebellion was the trigger that led him to oust a democratically elected President.
"Tuareg people in the north, Arab people, are our brothers. ... I want all of them to come to the same table right after this interview, my door is open, we should talk about this process," Sanogo said.
The European Union, the World Bank and the African Development Bank all have suspended aid because of the coup, and the African Union has suspended the country's membership. The US is considering suspending all but humanitarian aid.
"Right now, I'm in control of all the country," Sanogo, 39, said.
But rebels seeking to create a separate state in northern Mali for the nomadic Tuareg people have taken advantage of the power vacuum to advance to the gates of the strategic northern town of Kidal.
Sanogo said he acted Wednesday to avert a national security crisis because the government was not providing the arms and ammunition needed to fight the rebels.
On Friday, state radio and TV went dead for about an hour and troops set up barricades around its downtown headquarters, raising speculation that a countercoup was in progress. But the TV station flickered back to life.
When asked about a countercoup, Sanogo calmly responded: "To be honest, I don't fear."