Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 August: 2020:
There are reports of a military coup in the troubled West African State of Mali, where soldiers are believed to have surrounded the residence of the country’s President – Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Photo above). Some reports say that rebel troops have seized both President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse.
Soldiers were seen firing shots into the air in the capital, after months of demonstrations calling for the president’s resignation.
Keita, who was democratically elected, is believed to be sheltering at his private residence in Bamako’s Sebenikoro neighbourhood along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, who urged the soldiers to give up their rebellion and put the interests of the nation first.
According to report from Euronews, today’s escalation capped off a day of political chaos in Mali, where the UN and former colonial power – France have spent more than seven years trying to stabilize the country since a coup in 2012 allowed an Islamic insurgency to take hold of the West African nation. (Photo: President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita).
The unrest kicked off earlier in the day in the garrison town of Kati, where the previous coup originated under similar circumstances eight years ago.
The soldiers took weapons from the armoury and then detained senior military officers.
Anti-government protesters cheered the soldiers, some setting fire to a building that belongs to Mali’s justice minister.
Earlier in the day, government workers fled their offices as armed men began detaining officials including the country’s finance minister Abdoulaye Daffe.
EU Council’s president Charles Michel said that a “coup is never the solution to a crisis” as he commented on current developments in the African country. (Video below shows jubilating civilians as soldiers evacuate the President from his home. We apologise for the poor quality).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Keita, while the US said it was concerned about the situation unfolding in Mali.
“The US opposes all unconstitutional changes of government whether in the streets or by security forces,” tweeted J. Peter Pham, the State Department’s special envoy for the Sahel region.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a political and economic union of 15 countries which has been mediating Mali’s political crisis, urged the soldiers to return immediately to their barracks in Kati, which is only 15 kilometres away from the presidential palace in the capital. (Photo: Prime Minister Boubou Cisse also held captive).
According to Euronews, today’s events resemble the leading up to the 2012 military coup, which unleashed years of chaos in Mali following a power vacuum that allowed Islamic extremists to seize control of northern towns.
A French-led military operation eventually ousted the jihadists, but they then regrouped and expanded their reach during Keita’s presidency.
President Keita has faced growing criticism over the handling of the relentless Islamic insurgency, which caused a wave of deadly attacks to the military in the north last year and prompted the government to close its most vulnerable outposts in an effort to stem the losses.