President Of Mali Resigns After Soldiers Mutiny
Updated at 8:25 p.m. ET
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita went on state television to announce his resignation after soldiers carried out a mutiny Tuesday. Soldiers reportedly detained Keita after surrounding his residence.
Demonstrators had taken to the streets, tired of corruption and of a government that seemed unable to tamp down an Islamist insurgency in the West African country.
In the morning, soldiers took over a huge army base outside the capital, Bamako. By afternoon, local news reported the soldiers had arrested Keita.
France, which has thousands of troops in the country, called for maintaining constitutional order in Mali. The African Union urged the soldiers to release the president and other government officials immediately.
"I strongly condemn the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other members of the Malian Government and call for their immediate release," the AU Commission's Moussa Faki Mahamat said via Twitter.
1/3:Je condamne énergiquement l'arrestation du President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, le Premier Ministre et autres membres du Gouvernement maliens et appelle à leur libération immédiate. #Mali— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) August 18, 2020
Citing a leader of the mutiny who requested anonymity, Agence France-Presse said soldiers detained Keita, along with Prime Minister Boubou Cissé.
Mali's government released a statement Tuesday saying it is "following with great attention the events that have been taking place since this morning in our country, especially in two military camps in the city of Bamako."
The statement, signed by Cissé, called for appeasement, adding that the government is available "to engage in a fraternal dialogue" to clear up any misunderstandings.
The mutiny was "unleashed" in a sociopolitical context that was already complex, according to the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS. In a statement, the group added that the mutiny came after months of efforts by the ECOWAS Commission to broker a power-sharing agreement in Mali.
The group reiterated its "firm opposition to any unconstitutional political change" and asked the military to remain in what it called a "republican posture."
Mali has a long list of political and economic problems, from attacks by jihadist groups to an economy that has struggled since the military staged a coup in late 2012.
Keita, who is often known simply as IBK, has been in power since 2013 – but calls for his resignation have grown since the spring, when a court threw out many election results, in a move that left Keita's Rally for Mali party in a strong position in the National Assembly. This year's tumultuous parliamentary elections were Mali's first since 2013.
NPR East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta contributed to this report.