Malian soldiers fired shots and took control on Tuesday morning in the large military camp of Kati, on the outskirts of Bamako, and caused concern in neighboring countries and the international community. were not immediately clear.
The situation is tense in Mali. On Tuesday, August 18, soldiers took control of a garrison near Bamako, raising concerns among neighbors in Mali and in Paris and Washington about the possible overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. The head of state has already been facing two months with an outstanding challenge since the 2012 coup.
The Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a mediator in Mali, said very quickly in a statement that it was following the situation “with great concern”, with a myth released in an already very complicated socio-political context “. return without delay to their barracks “and” recalls its strong opposition to any constitutional political change “.
ECOWAS “strongly condemns the current attempt and will take all necessary steps and measures to restore constitutional order”. Also concerned, the United States, through its envoy for the Sahel, Peter Pham, stressed that it “opposes” any change of government outside the legal framework, “whether on the streets or by defense and security forces.”
For his part, the Malian Prime Minister, Boubou Cissé, called on the soldiers to enter into dialogue to resolve the situation. Much “reflects a certain frustration that may have legitimate causes.” “Mali’s government calls on perpetrators to retaliate” Boubou Cissé said in a statement.
“Angry soldiers shot in the air”
In the middle of the afternoon, the situation remained confused in the Malian capital and its suburbs. One thing is for sure: the soldiers took control in the morning in the Soundiata Keïta camp, located in Kati, about fifteen kilometers from Bamako. “Angry soldiers picked up weapons at the Kati camp and fired into the air. There were many of them and very nervous,” said a doctor from the city hospital.
The reasons for this outbreak were not immediately clear. These soldiers then sealed access to the garrison. A soldier who was among those who took control of the camp said they were holding “several high-ranking army officers, arrested by the snakes”.
Several Western chancelleries have reported the arrest of politicians, including ministers, but they could not be confirmed by official sources, not even those involving senior officials. The situation is “still volatile in Bamako”, the French embassy said, reiterating its precautionary measures.
For its part, France condemned this mutiny with the “greatest firmness”, according to a press release from the Foreign Minister. “France fully shares the position expressed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the press release it has just published, which calls for constitutional order and urges the military to return to its barracks without delay,” Quai d’Orsay added.
“A harmful social situation”
Following the announcement of the takeover of the Kati camp, protesters gathered in Independence Square in Bamako, the center of the protest center since June, to demand the resignation of President Keita again. Protesters set fire to Justice Minister Kassoum Tapo’s law firm.
>> To read also: “Mali: opposition demands the resignation of President Keita and his prime minister”
A motley coalition of political opponents, religious leaders and members of civil society intensifies demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Keita, accused of mismanagement. To this is added a “harmful social situation” according to union leader Sidibé Dédéou Ousmane.
The Mouvement du 5-Juin-Rassemblement des forces patriotiques du Mali (M5-RFP), which is leading the protest, refused a meeting with President Keïta last Thursday, and in particular made the end of the “repression” against its militants a condition. On the weekend of July 10, a demonstration degenerated which on June 5 required three days of deadly unrest.