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.
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.