Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita Resigns After Soldiers Mutiny
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We're at a moment in this country when it's easy to keep looking inward. The election, the pandemic, the economic crisis, racial issues and more give us plenty to do, but the rest of the world is out there. We're keeping an eye for you. Today we have news from West Africa. The president of Mali has been ousted in a military coup that comes after months of popular protests. Here's NPR's Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta.
(SOUND OF GUNS FIRING, CROSSTALK)
EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: On Tuesday morning, soldiers took over a military base just outside the capital, Bamako. By afternoon, they had marched into the city and arrested their president and prime minister.
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PERALTA: Soldiers fired in the air, and thousands joined them to celebrate the ouster of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. For more than two months now, people in Mali have been taking to the streets, demanding the ouster of President Keita. They complained of corruption and the government's inability to bring an Islamist insurgency under control. By nightfall, Keita was giving a speech on state TV.
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IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA: (Non-English language spoken).
PERALTA: Surrounded by soldiers, he said he had no choice but to resign. Another coup back in 2012 actually led to the elections that brought Keita to power, but Islamists took advantage of the yearlong power vacuum before the elections, claiming vast territory. Their advance was stopped by a French military intervention. France, the former colonial power which still has thousands of troops in the country, called for constitutional order following the coup.
The African Union issued a statement condemning the coup, saying all arrested government officials should be released immediately. ECOWAS, the regional body for West African states, said the coup leaders had no legitimacy. It decided to close all borders with Mali and suspend financial flows in an attempt to restore Keita to power. Today on state TV, however, coup leaders said they intend to form a transitional government. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.