* Mali interim president attacked on Monday
* Tug-of-war for leadership in coup-stricken Mali
* Govt says president to return
(Adds Mali government confirmation)
By Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo
BAMAKO, May 23 Mali's interim leader Dioncounda
Traore was flown to France on Wednesday for medical checks after
he was attacked by protesters this week, Mali's government
Traore suffered facial injuries when hundreds of protesters
broke into the presidential palace on Monday. The full extent of
his injuries was not clear but two diplomatic sources said he
was due to have checks on his pacemaker.
Hamadoun Toure, Mali's interim government spokesman, said on
state television the medical visit had been long planned and
Traore would return once he was cleared by his doctor.
"Due to an unfortunate coincidence of events, his visit to
the French capital comes two days after an attack perpetrated
against him by demonstrators while he was in his office," Toure
said in a brief statement on television.
Official sources in Paris told Reuters the visit was a
private one of a kind the president had often made before.
A tug-of-war for leadership of coup-stricken Mali has
emerged between supporters of the ruling military junta and
those backing Traore, who has been guiding a transition back to
democracy since April.
The uncertainty could complicate international efforts to
restore constitutional order in the West African state since
mutinous soldiers toppled the government on March 22, paving the
way for rebels to take over the country's north.
Junta supporters want coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to
take over the role of interim president from Traore, after a
40-day deadline imposed on his leadership by the junta expired
on May 22.
Security forces dispersed a meeting scheduled at a sports
stadium in the capital on Wednesday afternoon by supporters of
"This will not be an inauguration (of Sanogo)," Oumar
Mariko, a pro-junta youth leader, said before the gathering.
"This is a meeting to let the public known about the
conclusions of the convention." A convention on Monday and
Tuesday of political parties aligned with the junta picked
Sanogo as the next interim president.
But the FDR umbrella group of politicians and civil society
leaders backing Traore, the 70-year-old parliament speaker
inaugurated with international backing on April 12, said on
Wednesday he would not step down, and called for a West African
regional force to intervene.
"Dioncounda (Traore) will never resign," Tebou Telly, an FDR
leader, told a news conference in Bamako.
(Additional reporting by David Lewis, Bate Felix in Dakar and
Brian Love in Paris; writing by Mark John and Bate Felix;
editing by Andrew Roche)