Felicity Salina, International Law Officer
Mali President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was arrested on Tuesday, 18 August, by mutinous soldiers at his residence in the country’s capital, Bamako. The arrest occurred after months of political turmoil, triggered by claims of government corruption and a deteriorating security situation by Keïta’s opponents.
Actors behind the arrest are reported to have previously taken over the Kati military camp, where both President Keïta and Prime Minister Boubou Cissé are being held. The precise number of soldiers who participated in the munity remain unclear, while observers are still theorizing over the motive behind the arrest and detention. Several reports claim that it was caused by troops’ dissatisfaction over army pay.
The United Nations and the African Union (AU) have both condemned the incident. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the immediate release of all detained government officials, emphasizing that “constitutional order and rule of law” must be immediately restored. In a similar vein, AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat urged all 15 member States of the West African ECOWAS bloc and the international community to “combine their efforts to oppose any use of force to end the political crisis in Mali”. He also implored the cessation of all use of violence by the mutineers.
Meanwhile, President Keïta has decided to step down from office shortly after his arrest. The move is necessary to prevent bloodshed, he stated in a televised announcement. The speech of the 75-year old was welcomed by anti-government demonstrators, with leaders of the military coup promptly declaring their plan to proceed with a political transition plan and to hold elections within “a reasonable time”.
Read more about the arrest of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta here: