Military officers who overthrew Mali’s president in a coup d’etat that drew international condemnation pledged on Wednesday to restore stability and oversee a transition to elections within a “reasonable” period. The coup plotters said that they were more interested in the stability of the countrey than power.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned and dissolved parliament late on Tuesday, hours after the coup leaders detained him at gunpoint, plunging a country already facing an armed movement against it as well as mass opposition protests deeper into crisis.
Colonel-Major Ismael Wague – a spokesman for the coup-makers calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People – said they acted to prevent Mali from falling further into chaos.
“The social and political tension has undermined the proper functioning of the country for quite a while,” said Wague, flanked by soldiers.
“Mali descends into chaos day by day [with] anarchy and insecurity because of the fault of the people in charge of its destiny. Real democracy doesn’t go with complacency, nor weakness of the state authority, which must guarantee freedom and security of the people.”
There was no word on the future of Keita, 75.
On Wednesday afternoon, army officer Colonel Assimi Goita announced himself as the leader of the military coup.
“Let me introduce myself, I am Colonel Assimi Goita, chairman of the National Committee for the salvation of the People,” he said after meeting top civil servants.
Goita had appeared among the group of officers seen in the overnight televised statement but did not speak.
During that address, Wague said all international agreements will still be respected and international forces, including the UN mission in Mali and G5 Sahel, will remain in place “for the restoration of stability”.
The coup leaders also remain “committed to the Algiers process” – a 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and armed groups in the north of the country, Wague said.
Borders were closed and a curfew went into effect from 9pm to 5am.
The takeover was quickly condemned by Mali’s regional and international partners, who fear Keita’s fall could further destabilise the former French colony and West Africa’s entire Sahel region.
West Africa’s 15-nation regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States, on Tuesday suspended Mali from its institutions and closed its member states’ borders with Mali.
Having previously warned it would no longer tolerate military takeovers in the region, the bloc plans to send a high-level delegation to Mali to ensure a return to constitutional democracy.
Meanwhile, chairman of the African Union and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” in Mali and demanded its detained politicians be freed.