Mali president, Ibrahim Keita resigns after military mutiny, dissolves parliament

Malian soldiers celebrated as they arrive indepence square in Bamako following the resignation of the president, Keita
EJ
Emeh Joy

Mali President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned early hours of Wednesday saying he wants to avoid bloodshed hours after his arrest by military troops in a sudden coup that followed months of political crisis in the West African nation.

The president had said he was resigning and would dissolve the parliament hours after mutiny soldiers detained him and some top officials of the government.

Keita who spoke in a brief address broadcast on the state television said, "I want no blood to be spilt to keep me in power".

What is happening in Mali?

The President, his Prime Minister, Boubou Cisse as well as other top government officials of the West African nation were earlier seized and detained by mutinous soldiers.

This worsened the national crisis within the nation, which is already battling with mass protests and jihadist insurgency before now.

The president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigns to avoid bloodshed after being arrested by military troops in a sudden coup

Keita after the arrest appeared a few hours past midnight to declare dissolution of the government as well as its national assembly. He said he was left with no choice but to submit.

"If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end their intervention, do I really have a choice? I (must) submit to it because I don't want ant bloodshed".

The Mali coup: How did it happen?

Earlier on Tuesday, soldiers were reported to have taken up arms at the military base in Kati, a town about 15 kilometres away from the capital city of Bamako.

The soldiers started arresting senior military officers as well as civil servants. A correspondent for DW News said at that point:

"More and more people are gathering at Independence Square in support of the M5-RFP movement that wants to see the resignation of the president and the prime minister Boubou Cisse.

"They seem to support the military, but it remains unclear what the demands of the military are".

Rebel troops were later reported to have surrounded Keita's private residence in the evening, firing shots into the thin air before finally taking the nation's leader into custody.

They didn't end there, Cisse who had earlier pleaded with the soldiers to lay down their arms after the uproar began was also captured. According to a staff of the prime minister, the pair were being held in a military base in Kati.

A video clip of the coup while it was in progress

After that, soldiers were sighted moving through Bamako freely- surely a sign that they were making gains in the capital city.

It was later reported as reporters learnt later that several high ranking government officials were also arrested and that included the Minister of Finance, Abdoulaye Daffe and the chief of staff of the National Guard.

Also, according to Reuters, the State Broadcaster, ORTM was evacuated and later went offline.

The reaction of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the Mali Crisis

Clearly, the crisis in Mali has surged for long till it came to the climax on Tuesday 18 August. Before now, the Economic Community of West African States has been sending delegations to the African nation for peace talks.

The delegation saw the president of several African countries including the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari; President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou; President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Ado; President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara; and President of Senegal, Macky Sall visit Bamako in a bid to ease tensions.

Malik's president, Ibrahim Keita (right), and Senegal's president, Macky Sall exchange greetings at Sheraton Bamako hotel on July 23, 2020

However, it became apparent that all efforts to cool down the heated political crisis in the nation were all to avail as the M5 movement still demanded that President Ibrahim Keita resigns.

When the military launched a 'mutiny' on Tuesday, ECOWAS had urged them to return immediately to their barracks.

The bloc later decided to suspend Mali from its decision-making bodies, shut its member states' borders with the country and suspend all financial flows between its members and Mali.

It also called on the ECOWAS Commission to sanction the "putschists and their partners and collaborators".

Other international responses to the Mali coup

The Mali crisis and the coup which happened on Tuesday has received reactions from different foreign governments.

The chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat had taken to his Twitter account to strongly condemn the arrest of the President and this prime minister while calling for their release.

The EU Vice President also left a tweet saying, "The European Union condemns the attempted coup d'etat underway in Mali and rejects all unconstitutional change. This can in no way be a response to the deep socio-political crisis that has hit Mali for several months".

The French Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the mutiny and urged the Mali military to return to the barracks.

The UN chief, Antonio Guterres, asked for the "immediate and unconditional release" of the President of Mali as well as members of his government.

The spokesman for Guterres in a statement said, "The secretary-general strongly condemns these actions and calls for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rules of law in Mali".

The UN Security Council is planning emergency discussions about Mali and the crisis going on there on Wednesday.

How did the Mali socio-political crisis that led to the military coup start?

One would ask, "how did Mali get here in the first place". Admittedly, this military coup came about as a result of months of brewing agitations and protests amongst groups and citizens of the nation.

It all started with the fallout from Mali's parliamentary elections in March. The opposition leader, Soumaila Cisse, was kidnapped just three days ahead of the first round of votes.

On the set day of the election, votes were tampered with as there was the abduction of officials, trashing of polling units and even a deadly mine explosion.

Again the second round of votes which took place in April faced disruptions in the north and central areas. Later, the results of about 30 seats were overturned by Mali's constitutional court. This move was of advantage to 10 candidates in President Keita's party.

The M5-RFP movement saw protesters burn tires and barricade roads in Bamako, Mali on July 10, 2020

The month of June saw the spillage of anger from the public in the capital city of Bamako at the way the government handled the elections.

It led to the June 5 movement- the Rally off Patriotic Forces referred to as M5-RFP. The M5-RFP held further protests against the government with many demanding that Keita resigns. Fourteen people were killed during the protests in July.

Safety warnings from French and United States embassies

The French and United States embassies in Mali have warned citizens on Tuesday to stay at home amid the violence and uproar in the nation.

the US embassy in a statement said, "The US Embassy is aware of gunfire and unrest in the area of Kati, as well as ongoing police/military operations in Bamako.

"There have been multiple reports of gunfire throughout the city as well as reports of soldiers driving in trucks and firing their weapons in the air.

"There are continued reports of demonstrators gathered at the Monument de L'independence. The US recommends all US citizens avoid these areas, if possible".

Also, the US Africa Command said it was aware of the suspected coup. "We are aware of the events in Mali. All US service members are accounted for. We will continue to monitor the situation", it said in a statement.

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