Mali coup leaders promise civilian government, credible elections
20 August 2020
Mali’s military leaders, who forced out elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on Tuesday, said they will form a transitional, civilian-led government and organise “credible” elections.
Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta resigned after being detained by soldiers on Tuesday. The President and PM Boubou Cissé were taken to a military camp near the capital Bamako, drawing international condemnation.
In a brief address on state television, the ousted President said he was also dissolving the government and parliament, adding: "I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power."
"If today, certain elements of our armed forces want this to end through their intervention, do I really have a choice?" he asked.
"I hold no hatred towards anyone, my love of my country does not allow me to," he added. "May God save us."
A spokesman for the soldiers called for "a civil political transition leading to credible general elections".
Keïta won a second term in elections in 2018, but there has been anger over corruption, the mismanagement of the economy and a dispute over legislative elections. It has prompted several large protests in recent months.
There has also been anger among troops about pay and over a continuing conflict with jihadists.
A televised statement was read out early on Wednesday on behalf of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People.
"Civil society and political social movements are invited to join us to create together the best conditions for a civil political transition leading to credible general elections for the exercise of democracy through a roadmap that will lay the foundations for a new Mali," Air force deputy chief of staff Col-Major Ismaël Wagué said.
"Our country is sinking into chaos, anarchy and insecurity mostly due to the fault of the people who are in charge of its destiny,", Col Wagué said.
"As of today, all air and land borders are closed until further notice. A curfew is in place from 09:00 to 17:00 until further notice," he added.
It is still unclear as to who are behind the mutiny and who will now take charge.
A BBC Afrique report by Abdoul Ba in Bamako said the coup was likely led by Col Malick Diaw, deputy head of the Army’s Kati camp, and another commander, Gen Sadio Camara.
After taking over the camp, about 15 km from Bamako, the mutineers marched on the capital, where they were cheered by crowds who had gathered to demand Keïta's resignation.
On Tuesday afternoon they stormed his residence and arrested the President and the prime minister.
The soldiers also detained the President's son, the speaker of the National Assembly, the foreign and finance ministers among other officials.
Soldiers, especially at the Kati camp, were angry at the inability of the senior commanders to stop jihadists and Tuareg rebels taking control of northern Mali.
The United Nations and African Union called for the release of those held by the soldiers. The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the West African regional bloc condemned the coup.
Ecowas, a regional body, said its 15 member states had agreed to close their borders with Mali, suspend all financial flows to the country, and eject Mali from all Ecowas decision-making bodies.
France, the former colonial ruler of Mali, condemned the president's detention, and urged the soldiers to return to barracks. Mali is a key base for French troops fighting Islamist insurgents across the Sahel region.
A member of Mali's opposition M5 movement, which has held protests against Keïta for the past few weeks, welcomed his resignation.
The desert regions of northern Mali are home to various militant groups, some of whom are linked to al-Qaeda, which have also spread into neighbouring Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.
French troops, working with a regional force known as G5 Sahel, and a 10,000-strong force of UN peacekeepers are based in Mali, trying to tackle the militants.
The Indian mission in Mali has advised caution for Indian nationals. Indian envoy to Mali Anjani Kumar said, "All embassy members are at home and safe. We sent them back after the first indication of disturbance. Requested all Indians to stay home in view of developments."
Around 250-300 Indians are present in the country. Most of them are in the retail business, mining, power, and steel.
Ousted Malian President Keita had visited India twice, one in 2018 to attend the Founding Conference of International Solar Alliance (ISA) and before that in 2015 to take part in India Africa Summit. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa.