The African Union has confirmed that the president and prime minister of Mali have been arrested after a mutiny of members of the military.
Rabat – A coup is underway in Mali as military mutineers have detained Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. A leader of the military mutiny told AFP that Mali’s “president and prime minister are under control.”
Cisse had earlier called for an end to an apparent mutiny by military officers stationed in a base near the capital. Gunfire sounded at the Kati military base on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 18, leading to another attempted coup after months of public discontent with the government of President Keita.
— African (@ali_naka) August 18, 2020
In the early afternoon, the Norwegian embassy announced that a possible military mutiny was underway in Kati, with reports of military vehicles on the streets of Kati, 15 kilometers west of the capital, Bamako. As the day progressed troops appear to have made it to the capital where they detained several senior officials.
Opposition protests calling for the president and prime minister to step down have rocked Mali in recent weeks. Citizens are voicing concern over the government’s failure to reduce violence in the country’s north amid a collapsing economy. Al Jazeera and DW News claimed that in the afternoon of August 18, several senior politicians and army officers had already been detained by the group of army mutineers.
Much remains unclear about the events in Kati, but news of the local military mutiny saw hundreds take to the streets to protest Mali’s political leadership. “Whether he’s been arrested or not, what is certain is that his end is near. God is granting our prayers. (Keita) is finished,” a protester told Al Jazeera. “We have come out today to call for the total resignation of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita,” another protester said.
The now-detained Malian prime minister had earlier called on troops in Kati to return to their barracks and was joined by statements from ECOWAS, France, and the United States. The US emphasized in a tweet that it would not support any regime change through unconstitutional means.
“Officials are being arrested, it’s total confusion,” an official of Mali’s Ministry of Internal Security told the Associated Press.
BREAKING: Mali’s Prime Minister & President have been arrested. Dictators are falling ? pic.twitter.com/7fb7PD9CfK
— Amakanji Thomas (@AmakanjiThomas) August 18, 2020
The US embassy advises its citizens in Mali to avoid Kati and the independence monument in Bamako where protesters are gathering.
The events in Mali sparked widespread speculation online. Social media users claim the mutiny is a direct coup attempt by Malian military commander Colonel Diaw. Others reported troops were moving to the capital which have since been confirmed
Mali publication Malijet and JeuneAfrique have confirmed that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has been arrested by members of the mutiny. Soldiers arrested him at his residence in Sebenikoro, Bamako. At the time of his arrest he was with the PM and his soon Karim Keita who have also been detained.
Chairperson Moussa Faki of the African Union has issued a statement condemning the arrest of President Keita, the prime minister and other government officials.