Mutinous soldiers in Mali detained the president, prime minister and defence minister after a sensitive reshuffle of the interim government on Monday afternoon.
According to Reuters, President Bah Ndaw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and defence minister Souleymane Doucoure were all arrestd and taken to a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako.
Diplomatic and government sources were quoted as saying the incident happened just a few hours after two members of the military lost their positions in a government reshuffle.
The developments deepened the political chaos in Mali just months after a military coup ousted the previous president of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.
A joint statement issued by the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS and other members of the international community called for the immediate release of the President, Prime Minister and Defense Minister, who were taken to the Kati military headquarters.
Those who signed on to the joint statement called for Mali’s political transition “to resume its course and conclude within the established timeframe.”
“The international community rejects in advance any act of coercion, including forced resignations,” the statement said.
“They emphasize that the ill-considered action taken today carries the risk of weakening the mobilization of the international community in support of Mali.”
The United Nations’ mission in Mali has also called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of the country’s transitional leaders on its official Twitter handle.
The UN mission in Mali, known as Minusma, said: “We are following events closely and remain committed to supporting the Transition.
“We call for calm and demand the immediate and unconditional release of the President and Prime Minister. Those who are holding them will be held accountable. They must ensure the wellbeing of those detained.”
KanyiDaily recalls that the Mali President and Prime Minister were sworn in last September after the ruling military junta agreed to hand over power to a civilian transitional government under growing international pressure.
The junta had grabbed power a month earlier after mutinous soldiers encircled the home of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and fired shots into the air.
He later resigned on national television under duress, saying he did not want blood to be shed in order for him to stay in office.
The soldiers then went on state television hours later calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People and promising a swift return to civilian rule. However, Monday’s developments appeared to throw that promise into question.