Mali’s president and prime minister were seized by mutinous soldiers, plunging the country into deeper political turmoil. The EU has condemned the “attempted coup.” West African bloc ECOWAS imposes sanctions on Mali.
Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said on Tuesday he was resigning and dissolving parliament, hours after mutinying soldiers detained him and top officials from his government. “I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power,” he said in a brief address broadcast on state television.
President Keita, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top government officials were earlier detained by mutinying soldiers, worsening a national crisis in a country already grappling with a jihadist insurgency and mass protests.
It was not immediately clear who was leading the revolt, who would govern in Keita’s absence or what the mutineers wanted.
Earlier on Tuesday, soldiers took up arms at the military base in Kati, a town 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the capital Bamako, and began arresting senior military officers and civil servants.
DW correspondent Mahamadou Kane, who was in Bamako ahead of the leaders’ arrests, said: “More and more people are gathering at Independence Square in support of the M5-RFP movement that wants to see the resignation of the president and the prime minister Boubou Cisse. They seem to support the military but it remains unclear what the demands of the military are.”
Rebel troops surrounded Keita’s private residence in the evening and fired shots into the air before taking the leader into custody.
Cisse, who had earlier urged the soldiers to lay down their arms after the uprising kicked off, was also seized. One of the prime minister’s staff said the pair were being held at the army base in Kati.
Soldiers were then spotted moving freely through Bamako — a sign that they were making gains in the capital.
DW learned earlier on Tuesday that several high-ranking politicians and officials were arrested, including the Minister of Finance Abdoulaye Daffe and the chief of staff of the National Guard. State broadcaster ORTM was evacuated and later went offline, reported Reuters.