New Mali military govt imposes curfew, announces transition without date, programme
London, August 19, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The rebel soldiers in Mali who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organise new elections but without any programme and date
The dissidents have been swiftly condemned by the regional and the international community.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said on Tuesday it had decided to close its member states’ borders with Mali after mutinying soldiers detained President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM state television, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Col. Maj. Ismael Wagué.
“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m
Mutineers’ spokesman Colonel-Major Ismael Wague invited Mali’s civil society and political movements to join them to create conditions for a political transition.
Wagué was the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force, before the putsch.
“Our country is sinking into chaos, anarchy and insecurity mostly due to the fault of the people who are in charge of its destiny,” he said while flanked by soldiers in a statement broadcast on state-owned television.
“We are not keen on power, but we are keen on the stability of the country, which will allow us to organise general elections to allow Mali to equip itself with strong institutions within the reasonable time limit.”
Wague also declared that the military junta would respect Mali’s international agreements.
He also said peacekeeping forces such as Minusma (UN force) or even Barkhane ” remain partners for the restoration of stability “.
The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France, and other allies and foreign nations.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission.
Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term. But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.
West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.
On Tuesday, mutinous soldiers forced his hand by surrounding his residence and firing shots into the air. Keita and the prime minister were soon detained and hours later he appeared on state broadcaster ORTM. A banner across the bottom of the television screen referred to him as the “outgoing president.”
“I wish no blood to be shed to keep me in power,” Keita said. “I have decided to step down from office.”
He also announced that his government and the National Assembly would be dissolved, certain to further the country’s turmoil amid an eight-year Islamic insurgency and the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Keita, who tried to meet protesters’ demands through a series of concessions, has enjoyed broad support from France and other Western allies. He also was believed to have widespread backing among high-ranking military officials, underscoring a divide between army leadership and unpredictable rank-and-file soldiers.
Tuesday marked a repeat of the events leading up to the 2012 coup, which unleashed years of chaos in Mali when the ensuing power vacuum allowed Islamic extremists to seize control of northern towns. Ultimately a French-led military operation ousted the jihadists, but they merely regrouped and expanded their reach during Keita’s presidency into central Mali.
Keita’s political downfall closely mirrors that of his predecessor: Amadou Toumani Toure was forced out of the presidency in 2012 after a series of punishing military defeats. That time, the attacks were carried out by ethnic Tuareg separatist rebels. This time, Mali’s military has sometimes seemed powerless to stop extremists linked to al-Qaida and IS.