BAMAKO — The city of Bamako appeared to regain its serenity on Wednesday, after a mutiny at the Soundiata Keita military camp led to the forced resignation of Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday morning, businesses gradually opened in the Malian capital. But public services, banks and other financial institutions remained closed. Looting and vandalism that lasted all Tuesday night following the announcement of the arrest of Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse have stopped. Taking advantage of the military mutiny, some people ransacked public and private buildings, including the office of the former prime minister and the home of former justice minister.
In a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon, the military-formed National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) called on “citizens to go about their business and resume their activities.” It also called on “public servants to return to work tomorrow, Thursday 20 August” by assuring that “all security measures are taken.”
Following a mutiny early Tuesday in the Soundiata Keita camp in Kati, a town near Bamako, Keita and Cisse were taken to the same camp by the mutinous soldiers during the day. Keita then announced in the evening his own resignation, and the dissolution of the National Assembly and Cisse’s government.
A few hours after Keita’s forced resignation, the CNSP made its first ever public statement. Colonel Major Ismael Wague, as spokesman for the CNSP, announced a series of measures, including the immediate closure of the country’s land and air borders and a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. “We are not committed to power, but to the stability of the country, which will allow us to hold general elections within a reasonable time to enable Mali to develop strong institutions that are capable of managing our daily lives and restoring confidence between the rulers and the ruled,” the spokesman said in the statement, saying that they were “favourable to a civil transition.”
On Wednesday, associations and organizations of journalists and actors announced in a joint statement that they have taken note of “the political turn as well as the seizure of power by the CNSP.” Nevertheless, they deplored the fact that the military made “no mention of the guarantee of fundamental freedoms, including those relating to the press and expression” in their first statement.
Some Malian political parties called it “the coup d’etat,” appealing to the international community to help “restore constitutional order.” The mutiny was strongly condemned by several countries and regional and international organizations who opposed any attempt at unconstitutional change of government in Mali.
An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Mali was held on Wednesday in New York at the request of France and Niger, current overseer of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The council strongly condemned the mutiny in Mali and the arrest of the Malian president, prime minister and several other members of government by the mutineers.
The regional bloc has decided to suspend Mali from all ECOWAS decision-making bodies, close all air and land borders with Mali, and stop all economic, commercial and financial flows and transactions between member countries and Mali. A video conference of ECOWAS heads of state and government will be held on Thursday to discuss the political crisis in Mali.The African Union Commission also decided on Wednesday to suspend Mali from the pan-African body.