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African Union suspends Mali after coup

August 19, 2020

The African Union has demanded the release of Mali's President Keita, who resigned after being detained at gunpoint by mutinous soldiers. The EU and UN Security Council have condemned the coup.

Soldiers at a protest against ECOWAS block in Bamako, Mali
Image: Reuters/M. Kalapo

Mali was suspended by the African Union Wednesday after the mutinous soldiers seized power and detained the president.

"The African Union suspends Mali from the African Union until restoration of constitutional order and demands release of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other government officials forcibly detained by the army," tweeted the African Union's Peace and Security Council on Wednesday. The tweet was also shared by African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The 55-member union exists to promote peace and security on the African continent; the Peace and Security Council is made up of 15 countries.

Keita announced his resignation late on Tuesday after rebel soldiers detained him at gunpoint. The mutineers have been widely condemned by the international community.

Opposition to work on political transition

Opposition leaders vowed said in a statement Wednesday to work with Mali's new military junta to work on "developing a roadmap" for a political transition.

The opposition said it would organize "the biggest patriotic rally" to celebrate the "people's victory."

Rebels warn against 'vandalism'

Speaking in response to international criticism, Mali's new military junta also urged citizens to return to normal life and stop committing acts of "vandalism" that occurred after they took power. 

"The committee calls on the people to resume their activities in a healthy manner," said Ismael Wague, the spokesman for the governing military committee.

He added that no people had died during the unrest that followed Tuesday's coup, despite unconfirmed reports of several deaths. Wague also called for "an immediate halt to acts of vandalism and destruction of public buildings" and warned of fines for offenders.

Protests and unrest continued in the capital city of Bamako on Wednesday.

Read more: Mali: A revolt that led to a coup d'etat

What's next for Mali? — DW's Tomi Oladipo

International community condemns coup

The UN Security Council condemned the coup following a meeting, urging mutineers to immediately release the officials and "return to their barracks without delay."

Following a summit of EU leaders, European Council President Charles Michel described the situation in Mali as "worrying" and called for the "immediate release" of prisoners. German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed the EU's support for ECOWAS' wish to find a political solution.

"We are committed to stability in Mali and to peace," Merkel said.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the coup in a statement, saying it would close land and air borders to Mali and push for sanctions against "all the putschists and their partners and collaborators."

The 15-nation bloc, which includes Mali, said it would meet Thursday do discuss the military coup. It also said it would exclude the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

The foreign minister of Niger, Kalla Ankourao, also expressed disappointment about the coup in Mali in an interview with DW. Ankourao is a member of the mediation team of ECOWAS, which is currently chaired by Niger.

"For us, this is a disappointment. For two months we tried to mediate and hoped that the Malian people would adhere to ECOWAS' guidelines, namely democracy and good governance. The [coup] was a brutal halt to the negotiations," Ankourao said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for "peaceful dialogue" and a "rejection of violence" in Mali.

ed/stb (AFP, Reuters)