The leader of Mali’s 2020 coup, Col. Assimi Goita, has declared himself the country’s President, hours after the release of Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and President Bah Ndaw from custody.
President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were arrested Monday, along with other government leaders, hours after naming a new Cabinet that did not include two major former junta leaders.
While in detention, N’Daw dismissed the prime minister before handing in his own resignation letter, according to a military official and a West African diplomat involved in mediations.
Goita has been serving as the transitional vice president since September, regained control of the West African country by deposing the president and prime minister in an unprecedented move.
While Col. Assimi Goita pledged to go ahead with holding new elections in 2022 as previously promised, his display of force casts doubt on whether the vote will go ahead without significant interference by the junta that overthrew the last democratically elected president last August.
The move also raised concerns that the new political unrest could further destabilize efforts to control Mali’s long-running Islamic insurgency.
The United Nations now spends some 1.2 billion US dollars annually on a peacekeeping mission in Mali and France’s military has spent eight years trying to stabilize its former colony amid the ongoing threat.