Mali President Keita resigns  after arrest by mutinous soldiers

Mali President Keita resigns  after arrest by mutinous soldiers
Opposition supporters react to the news of a possible mutiny of soldiers in the military base in Kati, outside the capital Bamako, at Independence Square in Bamako, Mali, Aug. 18, 2020.

Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned late Tuesday night, hours after he was arrested by mutinous soldiers following months of massive protests.

The 75-year-old Keita said he wished to avoid any bloodshed in a resignation speech delivered on state television.

Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were arrested Tuesday at Keita’s house in the capital of Bamako.

A reporter for VOA’s French to Africa service says soldiers took Keita  and Cisse to a military camp in Kati.

ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) sealing member states’ borders with Mali after Keita and Cisse’s arrest, and suspended all financial transactions between Mali and its 14 other members and is, for now, removing Mali from its decision-making bodies.

ECOWAS officials have called for sanctions on those it calls “putschists and their partners and collaborators.

An  African Union Commission spokesman says Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat strongly condemns the arrests of Keita and Cisse and strongly rejects any attempted unconstitutional change of government in Mali.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and the rule of law in Mali. Council members France and Niger have called for a closed-door meeting of the Security Council Wednesday.

Another reporter in Mali told VOA that soldiers in Kati “went on the rampage, got to the arsenals, got the guns, started shooting in the air, went out and cut off access to the camp.”

Kati is the same camp where the 2012 coup that overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure began.

No casualties have been reported from Tuesday’s uprising and as of late Tuesday, soldiers were reported to be moving freely through Bamako.

Opposition supporters in Mali have held a number of large protests since June, demanding  Keita’s resignation.

Clashes between security forces and protesters in July killed at least 11 people.

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