Mutinying soldiers have arrested the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, as well as Prime Minister Boubou Cissé in an apparent coup attempt in the West African nation.
The coup attempt started with gunfire at a key military camp near the capital, Bamako, the BBC reports. In the city young men set a government-owned building on fire.
This comes hours after disgruntled junior officers detained commanders and took control of the Kati camp, about 15km (nine miles) from Bamako and it coincides with calls for more protests to demand that the president resign.
According to several reports, the coup was led by Col Malick Diaw – deputy head of the Kati camp – and another commander, Gen Sadio Camara. After taking over the camp, the mutineers marched on the capital.
The BBC further states that later in the day, they stormed Mr. Keïta’s residence and arrested the president and his prime minister – who were both there. The reason for the move is unclear, as is the number of soldiers taking part in the mutiny. Some reports say it was fuelled by a pay dispute.
Kati camp was also the focus of a mutiny in 2012 by soldiers angry at the inability of the senior commanders to stop jihadists and Tuareg rebels taking control of northern Mali.
Recall that back in July, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari had embarked on a peace mission to Mali. Seemingly, Buhari’s intervention did not have any impact on the warring parties in Mali.
The mutiny has been immediately being condemned by regional group Ecowas, the African Union and former colonial power France.
In its response, the African Union said: “The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat strongly condemns the forced detention of the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other members of the Malian Government and calls for their immediate release.
“The Chairperson strongly rejects any attempt at the unconstitutional change of government in Mali and calls on the mutineers to cease all recourse to violence, and calls for the respect of the country’s institutions.
“The Chairperson further calls on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations and the entire international community to combine our collective efforts to oppose any use of force as a means to end the political crisis in Mali.”