Malian soldiers released transitional president Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, arrested on Monday and who had “resigned” on Wednesday.
“The Prime Minister and the transitional president were released last night around 1:30 am (local and GMT). We have kept our word,” said a military official on condition of anonymity without specifying whether their enlargement was total or subject to conditions. .
Family members have confirmed their release. The two men returned home to Bamako, said their entourage.
A release that took place discreetly during the night from Wednesday to Thursday and which meets one of the requirements of the UN Security Council and Mali’s partners.
According to diplomatic sources, the head of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, who officially was until now transitional vice-president, now intends to take the head of the transition and appoint a prime minister.
This seizure of full powers, which the international community had resisted after the putsch led by the same colonels in August 2020 to the detriment of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, would further obscure the horizon of a country in turmoil, yet crucial for the stability of the country. Sahel.
The Community of West African States (ECOWAS), France and the United States have brandished the threat of sanctions.
The soldiers have so far refrained from expressing themselves publicly about their plans.
Colonel Goïta accused them of having formed a new government without consulting it while he is the vice-president in charge of security issues, a key role in a country in the turmoil of violence of all kinds, including jihadists.
The soldiers had indicated Tuesday that MM. Ndaw and Ouane had resigned, without anyone knowing under what conditions.
Since their arrest on Monday, the president and the transitional prime minister had been detained at the Kati military camp, about fifteen kilometers from Bamako, where President Keïta, re-elected a year earlier, had also been led by the colonels in 2020 and pushed to announce his resignation.
The UN Security Council unanimously condemned the ouster of the president and the prime minister, without however speaking of a coup, or considering coercive measures.
“To impose a change of direction of the transition by force, including by forced resignations, (is) unacceptable”, declared the Council.
In a statement released Monday evening, African organizations, Minusma, France, the United States and others were already warning that they would not accept a fait accompli as a forced resignation.
The United States has suspended assistance to Malian security and defense forces, the State Department said, adding that Washington would study “targeted measures against political and military officials who have hampered the civilian transition to democratic governance “.