Mali’s military strongman, Colonel Assimi Goita, has announced the dismissal of the interim President and Prime Minister, a day after the two were detained in what has been described as a coup.
President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were detained on Monday by the military, shortly after the unveiling of a new government by Mr Ouane.
Colonel Goita, the interim vice president and head of the August 2020 coup that led to the formation of the transitional government, said on Tuesday that President Ndaw and the PM violated the transition charter by failing to consult him in the selection of the new administration.
“The government led by Moctar Ouane has shown itself incapable of being a reliable partner,” read the statement aired on the state broadcaster.
The junta leader noted that he acted to “preserve the transition charter and defend the Republic" and promised elections in 2022.
The previous transition administration was dissolved in response to calls by pro-democracy campaigners who criticised the heavy influence of the military on it.
Even though the military retained the strategic Cabinet portfolios it initially held, two top members of the junta were dropped.
Mr Goita, who led the coup last August that forced former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita out of power, assured in his statement that the transition plan remains.
The United Nations and the regional blocks, Ecowas and the Frican Union (AU), in a joint statement with the European Union (EU) and the US, condemned the move by the military and called for the immediate release of the detained leaders.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres personally demanded the immediate release of the men who spent the night at a military camp outside Bamako.
"I am deeply concerned by news of the detention of civilian leaders of the Malian transition," Mr Guterres said in a Twitter post.
He said his special representative was working closely with Ecowas, AU, EU representatives, and other international actors, in support of the ongoing transition.
The UN Mission in Mali, which is known by its French acronym MINUSMA, said via Twitter that it was “closely monitoring events and remains committed” to supporting the transition.
“We call for calm and demand the immediate and unconditional release of the President and the Prime Minister. Those who hold them will have to answer for their actions,” it said.