African Union demands release of detained Mali leaders

Tuesday May 25 2021
Mali Transition President Bah Ndaw

Mali's Transition President Bah Ndaw is seen during his inauguration ceremony at the CICB (Centre International de Conferences de Bamako) in Bamako on September 25, 2020. PHOTO | AFP


The African Union (AU) on Tuesday demanded the immediate release of Mali's interim President and two senior officials whom the military detained on Monday in a coup attempt.

President Félix Tshisekedi, chairman of the AU, demanded an “immediate and unconditional” release of the Malian President and his Prime Minister.

“Everything must be done to preserve the stability of Mali and consolidate peace in the sub-region,” the DRC Presidency observed on Twitter on Tuesday.

President Tshisekedi said it was with "dismay" that he learnt of the arrest of the transitional President Bah N'daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, as well as Defence minister Souleymane Doucoure.

They were detained in Kati, a military base outside the capital, Bamako.

The interim leader was reportedly seized after he made unpopular changes to his Cabinet, replacing military representative Col Sadio Camara as Defence minister.


Camara and two others from the military were moved in what irked the armed forces’ grasp of the country’s controls since August last year.

More on this: Mali's interim government appoints new cabinet ministers

The military removed President Boubacar Keita in a coup last year after accusing him of lethargy in counter-terrorism efforts to battle an insurgency in the north.

President Tshisekedi feared that the army will regain power in Mali, nine months after removing Keita and  just one month after the seizure of power by the army in Chad.

The former Malian junta forcibly took the transitional President and his PM a few hours after the publication of a new Cabinet, in which emblematic figures of the former junta that seized power and who had been in the previous cabinet, did not appear.

Under the AU, coups and other unconstitutional changes of government are illegal.

Mali, whose voting rights at the AU are suspended, is supposed to conduct an election 18 months from the time the interim government took over, but the move on Monday was a signal that the programme may yet be derailed.