Soldiers who staged a military coup in Mali leading to the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his government said on Wednesday they planned to form a civilian transitional government that will organise fresh elections, according reports by Reuters.
Keita resigned and dissolved parliament late on Tuesday hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, plunging a country already facing a jihadist insurgency and mass protests deeper into crisis.
In a statement broadcast on state-owned television early on Wednesday, a spokesman for the mutineers calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People said they had decided to act to prevent Mali from falling further into chaos.
Flanked by soldiers, committee spokesman Colonel Ismael Wague invited Mali’s civil society and political movements to join them to create conditions for a political transition that would lead to elections.
“Our country is sinking into chaos, anarchy and insecurity mostly due to the fault of the people who are in charge of its destiny,” he said.
The military coup has been condemned by Mali’s regional and international partners who fear Keita’s fall could further destabilise the former French colony and West Africa’s entire Sahel region.
Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned on Tuesday and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, plunging a country already facing a jihadist insurgency and mass protests deeper into crisis.
Keita resigned in a brief address broadcast on state television after troops seized him along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top officials.
“If today, certain elements of our armed forces want this to end through their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said from a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako where he had been detained earlier in the day.
Images posted earlier on social media said to be taken at the Kati garrison showed Keita and Cisse surrounded by armed soldiers.
Mali has seen months of protests against alleged corruption and worsening security in the West African country where Islamist militants are active, and there have been calls for Keita to resign.
The M5-RFP coalition behind the protests signalled support for the mutineers’ action, with spokesman Nouhoum Togo telling Reuters it was “not a military coup but a popular insurrection”.
Hundreds of anti-government protesters poured into a central square in Bamako to celebrate and cheer the mutineers as they drove through in military vehicles and fired rounds of celebratory gunfire.
France and other international powers as well as the African Union denounced the mutiny, fearful that Keita’s fall could further destabilise the former French colony and West Africa’s entire Sahel region.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the immediate release of Keita and the other detainees.
“I energetically condemn the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the prime minister and other members of the Malian government and call for their immediate liberation,” African Union Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said on Twitter.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France “condemns in the strongest terms this grave event”.
The US envoy to the Sahel, J. Peter Pham, said on Twitter that “the U.S. is opposed to all extra-constitutional changes of government”.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned “the overthrow by putschist soldiers of the democratically elected government”.
In a statement, it ordered the closing of regional borders with Mali and suspension of all financial flows between Mali and its 15 members states.
At least 14 people were killed in July in the demonstrations that were called for by a coalition of Keita’s political opponents, religious leaders and civil society activists.
Keita had hoped concessions to opponents and recommendations from a mediating delegation of regional leaders would help stem the tide of dissatisfaction, but the protest leaders have rejected proposals to join a power-sharing government.