Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has announced that he will step down in order to avoid bloodshed, hours after mutinying soldiers arrested him. Neighboring countries have closed their borders in response to the unrest.
The West African nation plunged into a political crisis on Tuesday after soldiers detained President Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse. The Malian president said in a televised address that “certain parts of the military have decided that intervention was necessary” and that he would resign and dissolve parliament.
Do I really have a choice? Because I do not wish blood to be shed
It’s not yet clear if the soldiers who staged the mutiny at a military base in Kati, a town close to the capital Bamako, will assume control of the government. They are expected to deliver a statement later, according to media reports.
The political turmoil has been condemned by the European Union and the African Union. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it would shut its member states’ borders with Mali as a security precaution and vowed to impose sanctions.
However, the mutiny appears to have domestic support. RT’s video agency Ruptly released footage of cheering crowds welcoming a military convoy as it drove through the streets of the capital.
The apparent military putsch follows weeks of unrest in the country, with opposition protesters accusing Keita of mismanaging the country’s economy and allowing the security situation concerning armed jihadist groups in the north to deteriorate.