African Union head raises alarm on possible military coup in Mali

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Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were arrested during an apparent coup in the country Tuesday, according to the head of the African Union.

A spokesperson for African Union Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement that Mahamat “strongly condemns” the arrests of the two leaders and other members of the Malian government and “calls for their immediate release.”

“The Chairperson strongly rejects any attempt at the unconstitutional change of government in Mali and calls on the mutineers to cease all recourse to violence, and calls for the respect of the country’s institutions,” spokesperson Ebba Kalondo said. “The Chairperson further calls on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations and the entire international community to combine our collective efforts to oppose any use of force as a means to end the political crisis in Mali.”

The European Union also condemned the coup, calling for “dialogue” to strengthen human rights and avoid destabilizing both Mali and Western Africa. 

Video surfaced Tuesday of troops driving through the capital city of Bamako, shooting their guns in the air surrounded by cheering crowds. 

The suspected coup follows a reported attempted mutiny earlier Tuesday morning at a nearby military camp, which was the launching pad for a successful military coup back in 2012, according to CNN

Before his detention, Cisse wrote a Facebook message pleading with troops to enter into dialogue with the government.

“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,” he wrote.

Keita has faced grumblings from the public since May after Mali’s top court overturned results from a parliamentary elections and paved the way for his party to take control of a majority of the vacant seats.

Violence ultimately broke out across Bamako and surrounding towns in March following disputes over the election. 

Keita took office as Mali’s president in 2013 after having served as prime minister from 1994-2000.

Tags African Union Boubou Cisse Ibrahim Boubacar Keita Mali Military coup
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