African leaders have condemned the military coup in Mali and demanded the immediate release of detained President Boubacar Keita.
The Heads of State spoke on Thursday evening during a virtual meeting of the African Union Bureau convened to discuss the region's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Led by the African Union chairperson South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, they have called for the immediate release of Mr Keita and senior members of his administration, including Prime Minister Boubou Cissé.
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta urged for a "speedy, peaceful and democratic" resolution of the crisis while Mr Ramaphosa called for dialogue to restore peace and stability in the West African country.
Mutinying soldiers overthrew Mr Keita following months of protests against his administration.
The coup was led by army colonel Assimi Goita, who was introduced as Mali's new military strongman.
His entourage told AFP that Gen Goita, who is in his forties, had until now headed Mali's special forces in the country torn for the last five years by jihadist and sectarian violence.
The coup leaders have pledged a political transition and new elections within a "reasonable time".
The fate of Mr Keita is still unclear.
The AU's criticism adds to a growing chorus in the international community condemning the coup.
The 15-nation West African bloc Ecowas, which had tried in vain to mediate in the long-running political crisis, also said it would suspend Mali from its internal decision-making bodies.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States "strongly condemns the August 18 mutiny in Mali as we would condemn any forcible seizure of power."