President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, announced that he is resigning and dissolving the parliament, just hours after the military troops arrested him and the top officials from his government.
The announcement came late Tuesday in a televised address.
“I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power,” Mr. Keita stated.
Along with the President, the soldiers also detained Prime Minister Boubou Cissé. They were taken to a military camp near the capital Bamako. The coup has drawn condemnation from regional powers and France.
“If elements of the army felt compelled to intervene to bring an end to this, I have no choice but to comply,” Mr. Keita said.
Mali’s 75-year-old President Keita has faced growing public discontent since May. The discontent rose after the country’s top constitutional court overturned results from disputed parliamentary elections. This paved the way for Keita’s party to occupy a majority of the vacant seats.
Tensions have also been high with the troops expressing discontentment about their pay and a continuing conflict with the jihadists. Although Mr. Keita won a second term in elections, there has been widespread anger over his mismanagement of the economy, corruption and rise of communal violence in different areas of the country.
This has resulted in several public protests in recent months demanding the resignation of Mr. Keita.
The Malian Prime Minister Cisse has posted on Facebook, asking for the troops to not engage in arms and for the problems to be solved in dialogue.
“The government calls for reason and a patriotic sense and asks for the use of arms to be stopped. There are no problems that cannot be solved in dialogue,” Cisse wrote, in a statement that appears to have been posted before his reported detention.
The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, tweeted that he strongly condemned the arrest of Keita and Cisse and called for their release.
“I strongly condemn the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other members of the Malian Government and call for their immediate release,” Mahamat tweeted
Vice President of the EU Commission also tweeted: “The European Union condemns the attempted coup d’etat underway in Mali and rejects all unconstitutional change.” He added: “This can in no way be a response to the deep socio-political crisis that has hit Mali for several months.”
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), a regional body, also said its 15 member states had agreed to close their borders with Mali, suspend all financial flows to the country, and eject Mali from all of Ecowas’ decision-making bodies. In recent months, Ecowas has been a key mediator between Mr Keïta’s government and opposition groups.
France, former colonial ruler of Mali, also condemned the actions of the military troops. Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian urged the soldiers to return to barracks. Mali is a key base for the 5000 French troops countering Islamic insurgents across the Sahel region.
UN chief Antonio Guterres demanded “the immediate and unconditional release” of Mali’s president and members of his government.
The UN Security Council is planning on having an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Mali on Wednesday.
But the antigovernmental protestors who took to the streets back in June demanding for the President to step down celebrated at the news of Keita’s detention.
“All the Malian people are tired — we have had enough,” one demonstrator said.
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