President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Anadolu photo)
DAKAR, Senegal – Mali’s president announced his resignation and the dissolving of parliament early Wednesday after he was arrested by soldiers.
“I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power,” Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said in a brief address broadcast on state television.
Keita also expressed regret for the loss of lives during demonstrations held on July 10-12.
On Tuesday, Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were taken to the Kati military camp located 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of the capital Bamako at around 4.30 p.m. local time (1630 GMT), according to Le Journal du Mali.
Earlier in the day, it was reported that gunshots were heard at the camp, while military trucks were also spotted on the road heading toward the capital. The military reportedly blocked the road from the town of Kati to Bamako and businesses and offices were also closed.
Last month, the head of the African Union Commission urged calm, continued dialogue and negotiations for the diligent implementation of consensual solutions to preserve peace, stability and social cohesion in Mali.
Tensions erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and a rebellion by Tuareg separatists that ultimately allowed al-Qaeda-linked militant groups to take over the northern half of the country.
Leaders of a military coup vowed to hold “credible” elections in a statement announced on national television on Wednesday.
The coup leaders have also announced the creation of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) to oversee a political transition.
The committee affirmed its intention to set up a civil political transition that will lead to elections “in a reasonable delay”, according to a statement read on national television ORTM by Col. Maj. Ismael Wague, spokesman for the CNSP.
He also announced an intention to respect international agreements.
Mali has been rocked by protests for several months as demonstrators called for the resignation of the president.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Keita and members of his Cabinet.
“The Secretary-General is following with deep concern the unfolding developments in Mali, including the military mutiny which culminated in the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and members of his government earlier today in Bamako,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided Wednesday to shut down all their land and air borders with Mali after its president announced his resignation following the military takeover.
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has also condemned the coup in the West African country, saying it rejects any attempt at an unconstitutional change of government.
Keita, 75, came to power in 2013 but has been criticized by people who say he has failed to protect them from terrorist attacks mostly in the northern and central part of the country.
Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, suffers from the presence of several terror groups, despite the French, Malian, and UN peacekeepers who carry out counter-terrorism operations there.
A 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and Tuareg rebel groups could not be implemented. (Anadolu)