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Mutiny troops in Mali seize the country's president and several ministers


The President of Mali announced his resignation today, hours after mutinous soldiers fired shots in the air outside his home before arresting him and the country's prime minister.

75-year-old Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was caught in a dramatic escalation of a month-long crisis in the fragile West African country.

Prime Minister Boubou Cisse was also seized, officials say.

The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called for the "immediate and unconditional release" of Mr. Keita and members of his government.

But a "desperate looking" Mr Keita announced on state television today that he would step down from power three years before the end of his last term.

Fears of a coup in Mali are growing after mutinous troops seized the country's president and several ministers today, leading to condemnation by UN leaders

The 75-year-old Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was caught in a dramatic escalation of a month-long crisis in the fragile West African country

Prime Minister Boubou Cisse was also reportedly seized

The 75-year-old Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was caught in a dramatic escalation of a month-long crisis in the fragile West African country. Prime Minister Boubou Cisse was also reportedly seized.

Malian troops and citizens gathered outside the private residence of Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Bamako, Mali, today

Malian troops and citizens gathered outside the private residence of Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Bamako, Mali, today

Shortly before midnight, Keita spoke on the national broadcaster ORTM and wore a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His resignation is effective immediately.

A banner at the bottom of the television screen identified him as the "outgoing president".

"I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power," Keita said. "I've decided to step down from office."

He also announced that his government and the National Assembly would be dissolved.

UN chief Guterres today condemned the soldiers' actions.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Mr Guterres, said: “The Secretary General condemns these measures in the strongest possible terms and calls for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and the rule of law in Mali.

"To this end, he calls for the immediate and unconditional release of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and members of his cabinet."

Guterres is following developments in the capital Bamako "with great concern," added Dujarric.

The Secretary General reiterates his calls for a negotiated solution and a peaceful solution to their differences.

"The Secretary General urges everyone involved, especially the defense and security forces, to exercise maximum restraint and to uphold the human rights and individual freedoms of all Malians," said the spokesman.

Crowds had gathered downtown today to demand Keita's resignation and cheered the rebels as they made their way to the 75-year-old's official residence

Crowds had gathered downtown today to demand Keita's resignation and cheered the rebels as they made their way to the 75-year-old's official residence

Boubou Doucoure, who works as Cisse's communications director, confirmed that Keita and Cisse had been arrested and driven in armored vehicles to a military base in the town of Kati, about ten miles away. Pictured: people partying on the streets of Bamako in Mali

Boubou Doucoure, who works as Cisse's communications director, confirmed that Keita and Cisse had been arrested and driven in armored vehicles to a military base in the town of Kati, about ten miles away. Pictured: people partying on the streets of Bamako in Mali

Soldiers in a military vehicle heading for Bamako are greeted by citizens who have gathered in Independence Square

Soldiers in a military vehicle heading for Bamako are greeted by citizens who have gathered in Independence Square

The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, today called for the "immediate and unconditional release" of Mr. Keita and members of his government.

The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, today called for the "immediate and unconditional release" of Mr. Keita and members of his government.

The sudden mutiny marked a dramatic escalation of a month-long crisis in the fragile West African country that was previously a French colony.

Both the United Nations and France had tried to stabilize the country for more than seven years since a coup in 2012 allowed an Islamic uprising to gain a foothold in Mali.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Mali's controversial president

75-year-old political veteran Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected president in a landslide election in 2013 and re-elected in 2018.

Keita had stood up as a unified figure in his broken country and challenged his stubborn reputation.

But he has been left behind by jihadist and interethnic violence that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

Slow-paced political reforms, a flagging economy, run-down public services and schools, and widespread perceptions of corruption in the government have also raised sentiment against Keita and brought tens of thousands of demonstrators to the streets.

The 75-year-old head of state has so far been able to shake off criticism of a divided opposition and in part rely on the support of the international community, which has viewed him as a bulwark against the jihadist threat.

But the coronavirus pandemic and the kidnapping of opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, whom he defeated by jihadists in March this year’s elections in March 2018, severely damaged Keita's reputation.

After today's incident, there was no immediate comment from the soldiers who are from the same military barracks in Kati where an earlier coup took place more than eight years ago.

However, a rebel leader who asked for anonymity said: "We can tell you that the President and Prime Minister are under our control" after they were "arrested" at Keita's residence in the capital, Bamako.

Another later added that the incident was "not a military coup, but a popular uprising".

Nouhoum Togo, spokesman for the M5-RFP coalition who protested against Keita's presidency, said: “He did not want to listen to his people. We even suggested an alternative, but he responded with murders. & # 39;

Crowds had gathered downtown today to demand Keita's resignation and cheered the rebels as they made their way to the 75-year-old's official residence.

Boubou Doucoure, who works as Cisse's communications director, confirmed that Keita and Cisse had been arrested and driven in armored vehicles to a military base in the town of Kati, about ten miles away.

The United Nations Security Council is due to hold emergency talks on the crisis on Wednesday afternoon, diplomats in New York said.

The meeting was requested by France and Niger and will take place behind closed doors, said a UN diplomat on condition of anonymity.

Today's mutiny mirrors the events leading up to the 2012 coup that ultimately sparked years of chaos in Mali as the resulting power vacuum allowed Islamic extremists to take control of northern cities.

Ultimately, a French-led military operation ousted the jihadists, but they regrouped and expanded their reach during Mr Keita's presidency in central Mali.

A similar mutiny broke out in the Kati military camp on March 21, 2012 when common soldiers rioted and then broke into the camp's armory.

After taking up arms, they later went to the seat of government, led by then-captain Amadou Haya Sanogo.

Captain Sanogo was later forced to hand over power to a civil interim government, which then organized the elections that Mr. Keita won.