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Mali’s political leaders are being held in a military base

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 13:14

President Bah N'Daw on May 17 in Bamako © Rights reserved / Malian Presidency

The president of the transition and his prime minister were arrested on Monday by soldiers and taken to the Kati camp, a few hours after the announcement of the composition of a new government.

The announcement had just been made on ORTM when the situation in Bamako suddenly became tense late Monday, 24 May.

Troop movements were first observed at the Kati military camp, some 15 kilometres from Bamako, as well as in several parts of the capital. The president of the transition, Bah N’Daw, and the prime minister, Moctar Ouane, were then taken under military escort to Kati. General Souleymane Doucouré, who had just been appointed minister of defense, was also taken away and all three were still in Kati on Tuesday morning.

This sudden rise in tension comes after the announcement that two influential members of the former National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) – which led the 18 August 2020 putsch against Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) – have been sidelined in the Moctar Ouane II government.

Pressure on Bah N’Daw

The military still dominates the government, but Colonel Modibo Koné had to give up his post as minister of security and civil protection to General Mamadou Lamine Ballo, while Colonel Sadio Camara left the very strategic ministry of defense where he was to be replaced by General Souleymane Doucouré – former chief of staff of the Mali Air Force – who was until then the secretary general of the minister of defense.

Colonels Koné and Camara are both close to Assimi Goïta, the head of junta, who overthrew IBK and became vice president of the transition. Although discreet and shunning the media, Goïta has been seen for several months as the real strongman of Mali.

According to our information, pressure is currently being brought to bear on Bah N’Daw – who is himself a retired military officer – to have the dismissed colonels reinstated to the government. The president of the transition could also be forced to separate from his prime minister and announce the dissolution of the government, but he would not have hesitated to put his resignation on the line.

ECOWAS mission expected

On Monday evening, the United Nations Mission in Mali (UNMISMA); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the African Union; France; the United States; the United Kingdom; Germany and the European Union reaffirmed, in a joint statement, “their firm support for the transitional authorities. Condemning “firmly the attempted coup de force”, they demanded “the immediate and unconditional release” of Bah N’Daw and Moctar Ouane.

The International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), whose secretary general is Louise Mushikiwabo, called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of the transitional president and the head of government and appealed for “a sense of responsibility and the preservation of Mali’s best interests.”

An ECOWAS mission, led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, is expected in Bamako on Tuesday.

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