Troops in Mali have arrested the country’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a suspected coup, according to the chairman of the African Union.Moussa Faki Mahamat condemned news of the arrests, in a tweet posted Tuesday.”I strongly condemn the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other members of the Malian Government and call for their immediate release,” Mahamat wrote.
He added that he called on “the mutineers to cease all use of violence,” and asked the international community to oppose any use of force.Earlier on Tuesday, Malian Prime Minister Cisse had posted a plea to troops on Facebook, asking the military to put down its arms and engage in dialogue.”The government calls for reason and a patriotic sense and asks for the use of arms to be stopped. There are no problems that cannot be solved in dialogue,” Mali’s prime minister wrote, in a statement that appears to have been posted before his reported detention.On Tuesday, crowds took to the streets in Bamako, surrounding the capital city’s independence monument. A building owned by Mali’s Minister of Justice was set on fire and looted.The unrest in Mali’s capital followed reports of an attempted mutiny Tuesday morning at a military camp 15 km outside of the city, confirmed to CNN by a diplomatic source who had been briefed by local officials. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak on the subject.
Smoke rises from the residence of Mali’s finance minister Kassim Tapo in Bamako on Aug. 18, 2020.The source said the attempted mutiny took place in Kati, at the same camp that a successful military coup was launched back in 2012.The 75-year-old President Keita has faced growing public discontent since May, after the country’s top constitutional court overturned results from disputed parliamentary elections.That ruling paved the way for Keita’s party to occupy a majority of the vacant seats.Disputes over the polls have previously sparked post-electoral violence in several districts in the capital and other towns in March.Keita was first elected as Mali’s president in 2013.
He previously served as prime minister from 1994 to 2000.The European Union has condemned the “coup attempt.” “The European Union condemns the coup attempt underway in Mali and rejects any unconstitutional change,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said.”This can in no way be an answer to the deep socio-political crisis that has hit Mali for several months.”US Africa Command said it was aware of the suspected coup. The US has a limited number of personnel in Mali, who primarily perform counter terrorism activities with local and international partners.”We are aware of the events in Mali. All US service members are accounted for. We will continue to monitor this situation,” US Africa Command said in a statement Tuesday.
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