Officials from West African countries under the auspices of ECOWAS arrived in Mali on Tuesday after the nation was thrown into crisis following the detention of the president, prime minister, and defence minister in what international observers called an “attempted coup”.
Yesterday, President Bah Ndaw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and defence minister Souleymane Doucoure were whisked away to a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako. This came barely few hours after two members of the military lost their positions in a cabinet reshuffle.
Military overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020 then tasked Ndaw and Ouane with overseeing an 18-month transition return to civilian rule.
Sources say although their final goal was unclear, the military were reacting to the cabinet reshuffle. Calm has been restored to Bamako, the capital and flights were arriving and departing as normal.
According to Nohoum Togo, a spokesman for the M5-Rfp opposition coalition, Ndaw and Ouane were still held in Kati.
A delegation from the main regional decision-making body ECOWAS has arrived Bamako this morning. ECOWAS, the United Nations, African Union, European Union and several European countries said in a joint statement yesterday.
ECOWAS was crucial to the formation of an interim government after the August coup, last year.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said late on Monday he was “deeply concerned” by the detention of Mali’s leaders and called for their unconditional release. The African Union and the U.S. State Department also called for calm and their release.
Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs said on Twitter, “Sanctions will be adopted against those who stand in the way of the transition,”
Ndaw and Ouane appear to have moved against the military’s control over a number of key positions, replacing two leaders of the August coup who held positions as ministers of defence and security.
The attempted coup may exacerbate instability in Mali where militant terrorists linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State control large swaths of the desert north and stage frequent attacks on the army and civilians.
Since an earlier coup in 2012 triggered an ethnic Tuareg rebellion in the north, which was then hijacked by al Qaeda-linked terrorists, Mali has remained in turmoil
French forces intervened to drive back the terrorists in 2013. The insurgents have since regrouped and expanded their influence to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger Republic.
Sources said although their final goal was unclear, the military were reacting to the cabinet reshuffle.