Mali’s interim president and prime minister have resigned following their arrest by the military, in what amounts to a second coup for the troubled West African county in nine months.
President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane resigned according to a statement Wednesday from Baba Cissé, an aide to the country’s vice president and de facto military leader Colonel Assimi Goita.
Cisse said negotiations are underway for the two politicians’ release and the formation of a new government.
N’Daw and Ouane have been held at the military’s headquarters in Kati since Monday, when they were arrested in the capital, Bamako. A delegation from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS was scheduled to meet with them on Wednesday.
Goita, who led the coup that toppled then-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last October, said Tuesday he removed N’Daw and Ouane because they neglected to advise him about a cabinet reshuffle that left out two members of the military, a move he said violated the agreement that created the civilian transitional government.
Mali’s defense minister, Souleymane Doucoure, was also detained along with N’Daw and Ouane.
Goita said the country was still on track to hold presidential and legislative elections set for next February.
The detentions of N’Daw and Ouane sparked outrage among the international community. A joint statement issued Tuesday by ECOWAS, the United Nations, the African Union and other international bodies called for their immediate release, while French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the move as a “coup d’etat.”
The U.S. State Department voiced support for the ECOWAS statement on Wednesday, and said it is “suspending all security assistance that benefits the Malian security and defense forces.”
Mali has been in turmoil since then-President Amadou Toumani Touré was toppled in a military coup in 2012 that led ethnic Tuareg rebels to seize control of several northern towns, which were then taken over by Islamist insurgents. France deployed forces to repel the insurgents the following year, but the rebels have continued to operate in rural areas.
Source: Voice of America