Tuesday’s events sparked international condemnation and are likely to further destabilize the West African nation, following months of anti-government mass protests and a rising insurgency from Islamist militants.
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.”
Troops arrested the President and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a suspected coup earlier on Tuesday, according to the chairman of the African Union Commission.
It followed reports of an attempted mutiny that morning at a military camp 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) outside of the capital Bamako, confirmed to CNN by a diplomatic source who had been briefed by local officials. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak on the subject.
The source said the attempted mutiny took place in Kati, at the same camp that a successful military coup was launched back in 2012.
Earlier in the day, Cisse had posted a plea to troops on Facebook, asking the military to put down its arms and engage in dialogue.
“The government calls for reason and a patriotic sense and asks for the use of arms to be stopped. There are no problems that cannot be solved in dialogue,” the Prime Minister wrote, in a statement that appears to have been posted before his reported detention.
The AUC’s Moussa Faki Mahamat
condemned news of the arrests, in a tweet posted Tuesday.
“I strongly condemn the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other members of the Malian Government and call for their immediate release,” Mahamat wrote.
He added that he called on “the mutineers to cease all use of violence,” and asked the international community to oppose any use of force.
The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the situation on Wednesday, two UN diplomat sources told CNN.
The UN talks were requested by France and Niger, according to the diplomatic sources. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak on the subject.