The military leadership in Mali has said that detained President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane have resigned, completing a second military takeover within nine months in the West African country.
A spokesman for coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita said Wednesday that the two leaders tendered their resignation on the same day, two days after they were taken into custody.
Mr Ndaw and Mr Ouane were detained on Monday after angering the military leadership with the composition of a new government following a cabinet reshuffle. The newly appointed government was effectively dissolved by the resignation of the president and PM, according to local media reports.
"The president and his prime minister have resigned. Negotiations are ongoing for their liberation and the formation of a new government," Baba Cisse, a spokesman for Goita, was quoted saying.
Return democratic rule
The development comes amidst mounting pressure on the junta to release the detained leaders and restore the country to democratic rule.
The current political crisis in the war-torn country started in August 2020 after Goita led a coup that ousted former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Under pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and other international organisations, a transition administration was set up, headed by Mr Ndaw, who is a retired army officer, and Mr Ouane as prime minister.
Goita was the vice president of the transition team.
His action on Monday was provoked by the decision of the civilian leadership to drop key military leaders from the new administration.
Wednesday’s development also coincided with a visit by a delegation from Ecowas, which was led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, to Bamako.
Jonathan’s mission is to press the military to release the men and continue with the transition plan.
Ecowas had reportedly threatened to reinstate sanctions on the junta if it failed to do so.
Jonathan and his delegation were scheduled to meet with the detained president and PM at a military barracks outside Bamako where they are currently being held.
The UN, EU and US have all condemned the military action.
Nigeria, the regional superpower, on Tuesday condemned the military junta’s action and called for the release of the two leaders.
Former colonial power, France, also threatened action against the junta. French President Emmanuel Macron was quoted Tuesday saying that he was prepared to impose targeted sanctions over what he called "a coup within a coup".
The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis, called by France, Niger, Tunisia, Kenya and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.