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Mali's transitional president quits, military says

May 26, 2021

The transitional leader fired his prime minister on Tuesday. Analysts are skeptical as to whether a planned election timetable will be respected as the army stays in power.

Transitional President Bah Ndaw
Transitional President Bah Ndaw is said to have quit whilst in detentionImage: Amadou Keita/Reuters

Mali’s transitional president has resigned, military officials said on Wednesday, while he and the country's former prime minister are in detention.

A military spokesperson quoted by the AP news agency said transitional President Bah N'Daw had handed in his resignation to former junta leader and transitional Vice President Colonel Assimi Goita.

He fired Prime Minister Moctar Ouane yesterday.

Both leaders were arrested by the army earlier this week, sparking international condemnation and the threat of EU sanctions. 

It is unknown in what conditions the pair are being held.

N'Daw's reported resignation comes as representatives of the Economic Community of West African States are in Mali to mediate.

The delegation is being led by Goodluck Jonathan, a former president of Nigeria.

The UN, the African Union and the EU have all urged Mali’s military to release the transitional president and prime minister, who were to lead an 18-month civilian government.

Former Nigeria leader Goodluck Jonathan
Goodluck Jonathan has mediated in previous crises in MaliImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo

France warns junta over 'coup d'etat'

France, the former colonial power, has warned of serious consequences, including targeted sanctions, if the pair are not freed.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Wednesday that "what has happened with what amounts to a coup d’etat within the coup d’etat constitutes for us a rupture of confidence."

When Goita spoke Tuesday, he pledged to move forward with new elections in 2022 as previously promised.

But the arrests of the two leaders cast doubt over whether there might be significant interference by the junta, which overthrew the last democratically elected president.

There are fears that the new political unrest could further destabilize efforts to control Mali’s Islamist insurgency.

The UN now spends some $1.2 billion (€980 million) annually on a peacekeepingmission in Mali.

UN peacekeepers in Mali
The UN now spends more than $1 billion a year on peacekeeping operations in MaliImage: picture-alliance/dpa

France’s military has spent eight years trying to stabilize the former colony during the ongoing threat.

Mali expert warns of 'no clear path to stability'

Chic Dambach, adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins and American universities and former CEO at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, told DW that Mali's government "is in chaos with no clear path to stability."

"This is the third coup in 9 years — with a violent jihadist movement consuming much of the country and threatening more," he said. "Even with substantial international support, the government has not been unable to get control, and corruption remains rampant."

"Elections were scheduled for next February, and potential candidates have been positioning themselves. The coup's leaders claim the election schedule is still on, but one has to be skeptical," the former Nobel Peace Prize nominee said.

jf/aw (AP, Reuters)