03/24/2012 01:18 EDT | Updated 05/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada suspends Mali aid after coup d'état

Canada has withdrawn financial aid to the government of Mali, after the ouster of the West African nation's president in what foreign affairs described as "an attack on democracy."

Effective immediately, all direct payments to the Malian government will be suspended, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Saturday, condemning the ouster of Amadou Toumani Touré.

"Canada utterly condemns this attack on democracy by a faction of Mali’s military," Baird said. "We call on those behind this coup to immediately withdraw so that constitutional order, peace and stability may be restored."

Touré, whose whereabouts are not known, was overthrown following what the military called his failure to quash an ethnic rebellion.

While the aid programs for the government have been suspended, Canadian International Development Agency programs such as those that provide humanitarian aid directly to Mali residents through charities will continue.

Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda said in the statement that Canadians "stand with the Malian people and urge those responsible to put the needs of the Malian people first."

Oda and Baird said Canadian diplomats and foreign aid workers were keen to resume work in Mali toward the goals of reducing poverty, improving health and supporting democracy.

"We encourage a democractic and peaceful resolution to the situation," the ministers said, adding that "Canada will not in any way back this illegitimate rule."