Mali President Resigns After Detention by Military

August 18, 2020 Updated: August 18, 2020

BAMAKO—Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned on Tuesday and dissolved parliament hours after soldiers detained him at gunpoint.

Looking tired and wearing a surgical mask, Keita resigned in a brief address broadcast on state television hours after troops seized him along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top officials. A banner across the bottom of the television screen referred to him as the “outgoing president” of the former French colony.

“If today, certain elements of our armed forces want this to end through their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said from a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako where he had been detained earlier in the day.

“I wish no blood to be shed to keep me in power,” Keita said. “I have decided to step down from office.”

Images posted earlier on social media said to be taken at the Kati garrison showed Keita and Cisse surrounded by armed soldiers. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Bamako since June calling for Keita to resign over what they say are his failures to address worsening security and corruption.

Tuesday’s developments already had been condemned by the African Union, the United States, and the regional bloc known as ECOWAS that had been trying to mediate Mali’s political crisis. Former colonizer France and the United Nations, which has maintained a peacekeeping mission in Mali since 2013, also had expressed alarm ahead of Keita’s speech, fearful that the fall of Keita could further destabilise Mali and West Africa’s entire Sahel region.

Regional mediators from ECOWAS had failed in recent weeks to bridge the impasse between Keita’s government and opposition leaders, creating mounting anxiety about another military-led change of power.

Mali has long faced a jihadist insurgency and mass protests.

By Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako and David Lewis

The Associated Press contributed to this report.