Bamako: After a military coup in the west African state of Mali, President Ibrahim Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse submitted their resignations. An army unit at the Kati defence base, which is located near capital Bamako, revolted and detained the President and Prime Minister as well as other senior officials. Asserting that the coup was a necessity for saving the country from anarchy, the military spokesman informed that fresh elections and interim government would be announced soon. However, the United States as also the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) have fired salvos of criticism at the military coup and have appealed to the soldiers to return to their respective bases. It is the second military coup in Mali after 2012.
On Tuesday morning, a unit of the Mali military at the Kati defence base, situated 15 km from capital Bamako, opened fire and captured senior officials. The soldiers were successful in taking over the government offices in the Mali capital in the next few hours. Around evening, a military unit seized President Keita and Prime Minister Cisse from the presidential residence. After that, both were taken to the Kati military base. President Ibrahim Keita announced the dissolution of the government and the National Assembly, along with his resignation, late in the night.
As President Keita informed about his resignation on a state TV, he said, ‘If today, certain elements of our armed forces want this to end through their intervention, do I really have a choice? I love my country and wish no blood to be shed to keep me in power.’ A few hours later, a spokesman of the Mali military issued a statement clarifying their stand. Ismail Wague, the spokesman of the rebel military group, asserted that ‘Our country was pushed in the gorge of insecurity, chaos and anarchy, because of mistakes made by a single person. We had to take this action to save the country.’ This group which has become active under the banner ‘National Committee for the Salvation of the People’ informed that it was inviting civilian and political groups to decide the future democratic processes.
The international community has fired salvos of criticism on the military coup in Mali, which had become the centre of Islamic terrorism, in the Sahel region of western Africa. J. Peter Pham, the US Special Envoy for the Sahel region, reacted saying that the United States would not tolerate any unconstitutional changes in Mali, perpetrated by the security forces or any other groups. The UN Security Council has called for an urgent meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue in Mali. Both the major organisation from the African continent, the ECOWAS and the African Union, have expressed strong concerns over the developments in Mali. The ECOWAS has ordered all its members to close borders with Mali and stop all transactions with the state.
It is the second military coup in Mali since 2012. At that time, the Tuareg rebel groups and terrorist organisations had attempted to take over important cities in the country. France had made a military intervention, in support of the then Mali government. Thereafter, French military units along with UN peacekeeping force and US advisors have been stationed in Mali, to stop the terrorism. Nonetheless, the incidence of attacks on Mali military have been consistently increasing since the last few years, and the government has utterly failed to control the attacks.
Nationwide protests erupted in Mali in the last few months on account of this failure and the economic downslide. The negotiations between the government and the protestors have been futile. Last month, ten people were killed in clashes between the demonstrators and security forces. Opponents were consistently demanding President Keita’s resignation. The opponents, however, have clarified that the coup was not a part of the protests. Therefore, the coup and the change of power in Mali assumes much significance.