Mali coup plotters impose curfew, close borders

President Keita’s resignation followed months of civil unrest occasioned by mass protests.

Mali's military leaders have ordered the closure of all border crossings and imposed a night-time curfew, according to an announcement by Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff.

This follows the resignation of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, which he made on state television late Tuesday after he was held in custody by the mutineers for hours.

 

"As of today, 19 August 2020, all air and land borders are closed until further notice. A curfew is in place from 9pm to 5am [local time] until further notice," Col-Major Ismaël Wagué said in a televised address on Wednesday morning.

 

He also extended an invitation to opposition groups - which have been calling for reforms - for talks leading to fresh elections.

 

"Civil society and political social movements are invited to join us to create together the best conditions for a civil political transition leading to credible general elections for the exercise of democracy through a road-map that will lay the foundations for a new Mali," he said.

'A relief to all'

A member of Mali's opposition group, M5 movement - which held protests against former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta for the last few weeks, has termed his resignation as a "relief".

Prof Ramata Sissoko Cisse told the BBC World Service from Georgia in the US that Mr Keïta had lost the backing of the people.

"I think it's a relief for the Malian people and for all the citizens of Mali to finally hear from the president that because of the lack of support of the Malian people he finally accepts to resign, to give back power to the people who originally gave it to him and I think the people of Mali are very relieved today," he said.

I don’t want bloodshed

President Keita’s resignation followed months of civil unrest occasioned by mass protests.

Wearing a blue surgical mask amid the coronavirus pandemic, the President said on national broadcaster ORTM that he had little choice but to stand down to avoid bloodshed, and the country's national assembly and government would now be dissolved.

"For seven years I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country back on its feet," Keita said. "If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I don't want any blood to be shed," he said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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