The United Nations has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Malian interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane after reports that they were detained by soldiers.
This comes after reports that interim President Ndaw and Mr Ouane were driven by soldiers to the Kati military camp near the capital, Bamako which raises fear of a second coup within a year in the country.
In a tweet, the Minusma mission also called for calm in the impoverished West African nation, with assurance that those who hold the leaders will have to answer for their actions.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for calm and for Mali’s civilian leaders to be released.
“I am deeply concerned by news of detention of civilian leaders of the Malian transition,” Guterres said on Twitter. “I call for calm & their unconditional release.”
“They are not emblematic figures of the junta,” the official said, referring to the newly appointed ministers.
The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the EU and the US have also condemned the arrests, saying Mali’s top politicians must be released without any preconditions.
The reported detentions came just hours after a government reshuffle, which saw two senior army officers who took part in last year’s coup replaced.
Once again Mali is looking unstable just nine months after the military coup that saw President Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta removed from office, the BBC Africa reported.
According to the BBC, many Malians had welcomed Mr Keita’s departure – but there’s anger over the dominance of the military in the transitional government and the slow pace of promised reforms.
In an example of mounting unease, the opposition M5 movement — which spearheaded protests against Keïta in 2020 — this month urged dissolving the interim government and demanded a “more legitimate” body.
But the M5 is divided. Two members of the Union for the Republic and Democracy party, for example, were appointed interim ministers Monday. The party is part of the M5.
Civil disputes in Mali are also adding to the pressure created by political feuding, according to reports by FRANCE24, AFP and Reuters.
The country’s largest union, UNTM, called for a second week of strikes, Monday after payment negotiations with the interim government collapsed.