Ramaphosa condemns Mali coup, calls for immediate return to civilian rule

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/The Presidency

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union, has condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” in Mali and the forced resignation of Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

Keïta resigned on Tuesday after soldiers from the country’s military detained him and other senior government officials. In his resignation speech, he said he did not want “blood to be spilled to keep me in power.”

Return to civilian rule

In a statement on Wednesday, Ramaphosa “demanded” the release of Keïta, Mali’s Prime Minister, Ministers and other officials from detention.

The Presidency’s statement added, “President Ramaphosa calls for an immediate return to civilian rule and for the military to return to their barracks. 

“H.E. President Ramaphosa urged the people of Mali, political parties and civil society, to observe the rule of law and engage in peaceful dialogue in order to resolve their challenges.

“H.E. President Ramaphosa further urged African leaders and the entire international community to denounce and reject the military-led unconstitutional change of government and to assist the people of Mali to return to civilian and democratic rule.”

Ramaphosa’s condemnation follows a similar statement by Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, on Tuesday. He similarly rejected “any attempt at the unconstitutional change of government in Mali” and called on the military to respect Mali’s institutions.

“The Chairperson further calls on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations and the entire international community to combine our collective efforts to oppose any use of force as a means to end the political crisis in Mali,” he added.

Transitional government

The coup perpetrators, who call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, said they acted to prevent Mali from falling into “further chaos.” On Wednesday, they pledged to establish a civilian transitional government and hold elections.

The West African country has had a turbulent recent past in addition to several military coups earlier in its history. Keïta was reelected for a second term in 2018, but has faced widespread protests against corruption, economic mismanagement and disputed parliamentary elections.

Mali, which is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, is also experiencing a Jihadist insurgency and ethnic conflict.

The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss the unfolding situation, while the regional body Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has already suspended Mali. Its members have also closed their borders with the troubled country.

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