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UN joins global condemnation of military takeover in Mali

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The United Nations has joined global condemnation of the military takeover in Mali, which saw President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta forced to resign.

The UN’s Security Council echoed similar calls by regional bodies for the immediate release of all government officials and the restoration of constitutional order.

The soldiers said they acted to prevent the country falling into further chaos.

One of Mali’s most influential power brokers, Mahmoud Dicko, will withdraw from politics, his spokesman said, after a meeting on Wednesday with leaders of a military coup who have promised to oversee elections within a “reasonable” time.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned and dissolved parliament on Tuesday after the mutineers detained him at gunpoint, further rocking a country that is in the grip of a jihadist insurgency and civil unrest.

Fearing Keita’s fall after nearly seven years in power could destabilise the Sahel region, the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) both suspended Mali.

Malians cheer the military and police as they drive through the streets of Bamako, a day after the military seized the Presidency in Bamako, Mali, 19 August 2020. Mali President Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta resigned 19 August 2020 after he was seized by military in coup on 18 August 2020. EPA-EFE/H.DIAKITE

The mood in the capital Bamako was calm throughout the day and junta leaders urged people and officials to return to life as normal. But the economic fallout from the coup started to appear as investors ditched shares in Mali-based gold mining companies and Ivory Coast halted financial flows.

A spokesman for the mutineers, who call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (NCSP), earlier said they were not seeking power.

“We are keen on the stability of the country, which will allow us to organise general elections … within a reasonable time limit,” Colonel Ismael Wague said on state television.

In response, the M5-RFP opposition coalition said in a statement it had taken note of NCSP’s commitment to the transferral of power via the ballot box and would work with the group to achieve this.

The mutineers have denied reports of casualties from Tuesday’s unrest, but human rights group Amnesty International said it had documented the death of four people, while 15 more were wounded by bullets.

A Malian security source identified three of the other junta leaders who appeared alongside Wague as Colonels Sadio Camara, Malick Diaw and Modibo Kone.

Wague described neighbouring armies, France’s anti-jihadist Barkhane force and a U.N. peacekeeping mission as “partners for stability and restoring security”.

Mali has struggled to regain stability since a Tuareg uprising in 2012 that was hijacked by Islamist militants.

Keita, 75, was elected in 2013 following a coup the previous year, promising to bring peace and stability and fight corruption. He won a second five-year term in 2018.

Following months of protests over corruption allegations, at least 14 people were killed in July in demonstrations called by the M5-RFP.

ECOWAS, which had sought to mediate between Keita and his opponents, said it planned to deploy a fresh mission to Mali to ensure a return to democracy and scheduled an extraordinary virtual session of heads of state for Thursday.

On Wednesday, the finance ministry of Ivory Coast – French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy – ordered the suspension of all financial relations with Mali, in line with an ECOWAS decision in response to Tuesday’s mutiny.

Gold mining firms, including Mali’s largest miner Barrick Gold, said they were operating as usual and staff were safe, but traders sold shares because of the increased political risk. 

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