Ousted Mali interim president, prime minister freed by military after resigning while in detention

  • Mali’s
    interim president and prime minister, detained by the military, have been freed
    after resigning from their posts.
  • Interim
    president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane were arrested and taken to a
    military base outside the capital on Monday.
  • The
    arrests, orchestrated by Vice President Assimi Goita, have jeopardised Mali’s
    transition back to democracy after a coup in August.

Mali’s
ousted interim president and prime minister have been freed after they were
detained by the military and later resigned, an aide to the vice president said
on Thursday.

Interim
president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane were arrested and taken to a
military base outside the capital on Monday, triggering a crisis in the West
African country and drawing threats of sanctions from major powers.

The
two men resigned from their posts while in detention on Wednesday.

Assimi Goita with interim Mali president Bah Ndaw

Interim Mali president Bah Ndaw (R) is seen with Mali Interim Vice President Colonel Assimi Goita (L) during his inauguration ceremony at the CICB (Centre International de Conferences de Bamako) in Bamako on September 25, 2020.

The
arrests, orchestrated by Vice President Assimi Goita, have jeopardised Mali’s
transition back to democracy after a coup in August overthrew former president
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Goita,
a colonel, also led last year’s coup. He has promised that elections planned
for next year will go ahead.

Goita aide Baba Cissé said:

They resigned, their release was scheduled, we have nothing against them.

Ndaw
and Ouane’s whereabouts will be kept secret to protect their security, Cissé
told Reuters. He declined to detail any plans for their replacement.

Possibility of sanctions

Goita
ordered their arrests after a Cabinet reshuffle in which two fellow coup
leaders were sacked from their posts.

Their
resignations coincided with a visit by an Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) delegation to press the military to back down. ECOWAS has
floated the possibility of sanctions against the officers responsible for the
takeover.

Mali’s
influential M5-RFP political coalition, which led anti-government protests
ahead of last year’s coup, has opposed the leadership of Ndaw and Ouane, but it
said it would strongly oppose Goita’s appointment as president.

Although
considered by analysts to be Goita’s most likely future governing partner, the
coalition said talks with ECOWAS had failed in part because of him.

ECOWAS
did not comment about the talks on Thursday.

Nouhoum Togo, a
spokesperson for M5-RFP, told Reuters:

The discussions yesterday were unsuccessful because Assimi wants to be the president, which is contrary to the texts of the Transition Charter.

“Nowhere
is it stipulated that the vice-president can replace the president,” he
said.


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