The president of Mali has resigned after soldiers took both him and the prime minister into custody on Tuesday 18 August. Please pray for Mali as this latest development unfolds.
The President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, resigned late on Tuesday just hours after armed soldiers seized him from his home in a dramatic power grab following months of protests demanding his removal from the position.
Open Doors contacts in the country say the atmosphere there is calm.
Mutinous soldiers seized weapons from the armoury in the garrison town of Kati and then advanced on the capital Bamako. They took Prime Minister Boubou Cisse into custody along with the president.
Speaking on national broadcaster ORTM just before midnight on Tuesday, a distressed Keita, wearing a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said his resignation — three years before his final term was due to end — was effective immediately. A banner across the bottom of the television screen referred to him as the ‘outgoing president’.
“I wish no blood to be shed to keep me in power,” Keita said. “I have decided to step down from office.”
He also announced that his government and the National Assembly would be dissolved, to further quell the country’s turmoil amid an eight-year Islamic insurgency and the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Both the UN and France have expressed alarm.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sought ‘the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law’.
Open Doors contacts in the country said the atmosphere was calm. While many Malians seemed optimistic about the change, our contacts were more cautious. “Things are a little complicated,” said one contact. “We are not sure who exactly is behind this uprising, and need to watch carefully to see whether any radicals may use this as an opportunity to gain a bigger foothold. Thank you for praying for Mali.”
Radical Islamic groups took control of the northern part of the country in 2012, and this saw Mali leap to number 7 on the World Watch List in 2013, having not previously appeared on it. The situation is no longer as dangerous, and Christians have returned to the region under police protection, but they live under the constant threat of attack by Islamic militants.