MALI’S new military junta has promised to hold elections as soon as possible and restore democracy to the country following the widespread international condemnation of their coup d’état which deposed President Ibrahim Keita and his government.
What started off as a military mutiny over salary arrears, later ballooned into a coup as soldiers took over the Malian capital Bamako and arrested President Keita and prime minister Boubou Cisse. Following the takeover, President Keita announced his resignation on national television and both men were taken into custody at an army facility the Kati military base on the outskirts of Bamako.
President Keita said he had resigned to avoid bloodshed as jubilant crowds were already gathered in the capital to demand his resignation and cheered the rebels as they made their way to the presidential complex. His government has been beset by months of protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
In his television address, President Keita appeared calm as he appeared in a state TV broadcast soon after midnight to declare the dissolution of the government and national assembly. He pointed out that he had no choice but to resign with immediate effect given the prevailing circumstances.
President Keita said: “If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice? I must submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed.”
After his address, the coup’s leaders appeared on television hours later, pledging a political transition and new elections within a reasonable time. Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff Ishmael Wague, said he and his fellow officers had decided to take responsibility in front of the people and of history.
However, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) condemned the coup and has closed all land and air borders with Mali. It will now push for sanctions against the new junta and will suspend Mali from its internal decision-making bodies.
United Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres demanded the immediate and unconditional release of President Keita and Prime Minister Cisse as diplomats in New York said the UN Security Council would hold emergency talks today. Also, the US and France also released separate statements voicing deep concern about the turn of events and urged against regime change.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron condemned the mutiny and said he supported mediation efforts to resolve the crisis by other West African states. US envoy to the region, Peter Pham, joined the calls for restraint and echoed American opposition to any extra-constitutional change.