Early Wednesday morning, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said he was resigning to avoid “bloodshed” after his arrest by troops in a sudden coup that followed a months-long political crisis in the fragile West African nation.
Keita appeared calm as he appeared in a state television broadcast after midnight to declare the dissolution of the government and national assembly, and said he had no choice but to resign with immediate effect
“If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said of the day’s events.
“(I must) submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed.”
It was unclear whether Keita was still in custody at the Kati base, which is a twist of fate was also the site of the 2012 putsch that brought the 75-year-old to power.
Rebel soldiers detained Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Tuesday afternoon and drove the pair to a military base in the town of Kati, near the capital Bamako, which they had seized that morning.
Jubilant crowds in the city center, gathered to demand Keita’s resignation, as they made their way to the 75-year-old’s official residence.
The Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) also condemned the coup in a statement, pledging to close land and air borders to Mali and push for sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.
The 15-nation bloc — which includes Mali — also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.
The televised broadcast of his official statement:
“I would like at this precise moment, while thanking the Malian people for their support, warmth and affection throughout these long years, to inform you of my decision to step down from all my functions, from this very moment onward.”
#Mali #Bamako Possibly Coup État in Bamako by Colonel Diaw and his troops. Heavily armed vechicles are on the way to center of Bamako. According to local source several ministers have been arrested. President IBK was evacuated to a military base. pic.twitter.com/iGw0FgGxFO
— Gabrian Kovacs (@511ZGS) August 18, 2020
His decision was announced just before midnight Tuesday on the country’s national TV station The Office of Radio and Television of Mali (ORTM). A banner across the bottom of the television screen already-referring to him as the “outgoing president.” This came following hours of gunshots fired into the air by army mutineers outside his private residence where he and the prime minister, Boubou Cissé, were detained by soldiers — a military could d’état which certain sources suppose were headed by Colonel Malik Diaw.
A public address, hours afterwards on the same media channel, was given by the self-declared and newly created National Committee for the Salvation of the People, who are presumed to be behind the coup d’etat. Spokesperson, Ismael Wague, stated the military intention is for a smooth civil political transition with general elections foreseen within a reasonable time frame.
IBK vient n’annoncer sa démission en direct sur l’ORTM !
— Diby MAGASSA 🅙 (@bvmakosoldat) August 19, 2020
Keita’s resignation — effective immediately, comes after months of opposition protests calling for him to be removed from office three years before the end of his final term. His associated government and appointed National Assembly will also be dissolved and The Economic Community of West African States has consequently closed its member states’ borders to the nation. The badgered former president expressed that his decision to step down was to avoid bloodshed for his cause as Mali enters its 4th military coup in its history.
A dramatic turn of events that might not have Keita’s seemingly-desired quelling effect on the political crisis amid an eight-year Islamic insurgency and the growing covid-19 pandemic.