Mali’s coup leader Assimi Goïta declares himself president

Colonel Assimi Goïta made the announcement after stripping the interim president, Ba N’Daou, and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane of their powers

Mali’s former junta leader Colonel Assimi Goïta has declared himself the country’s transitional president.

He made the announcement after stripping the interim president, Ba N’Daou, and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane of their powers.

The two ousted leaders were freed from military detention, where they had been held since Monday in what was seen as Mali’s second coup in nine months.

Reshuffle was the trigger

The seizure of power came after a cabinet reshuffle that Goïta complained he was not consulted about. Two army officers involved in the previous coup lost their jobs in the reshuffle.

The situation in Mali today is said to be tense but calm.

Colonel Goïta said earlier that President Ba N’Daou and Prime Minister Ouane had failed in their duty and were seeking to sabotage the country’s transition.

They were arrested hours after the reshuffle and resigned from their positions while in detention on Wednesday.

Kept in hiding

Announcing their release on Thursday, Goïta’s aide Baba Cissé said, as quoted by Reuters news agency, “We have nothing against them.”

He added that their whereabouts would be kept secret for their own security.

Goïta has said that elections will still go ahead next year as planned.

The former leaders’ release had been requested by the UN, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union and the United States.

The two leaders had been held at a military camp outside Bamako since their arrest on Monday evening. The defence minister, Souleymane Doucouré, was also detained.


Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C) and other members of the Ecowas delegation speak to journalists after meeting Col Goïta
The former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan (centre) led an ECOWAS delegation, including Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, to speak to journalists after meeting Goïta

The latest events coincided with a visit by a delegation from ECOWAS. Last year ECOWAS threatened sanctions unless a caretaker government under civilian leadership took over from the military.

Now that Goïta in effect has torn up that agreement by taking charge, it is not clear what the repercussions will be. But France, the former colonial power, has threatened EU sanctions against the perpetrators, with President Émmanuel Macron describing the move as a “coup within a coup”, Reuters reports.

Goïta has asked people to go about their business as usual and promises that the armed forces remain committed to the transitional deal.

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