In Bamako, thousands of people celebrate the coup

Addressed by the crowd, during a popular rally organized by the opposition on Friday, the junta that took power in Mali thanked “the Malian people for their support”. In condemnation, the United States has lifted all military aid.

Thousands of people celebrate the fall of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keia. Opposition supporters gathered in central Bamako on Friday, August 21, to celebrate the “victory of the Malian people”, three days after a military coup declared by the international community.

Surrounded by armed soldiers, the second of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) set up by the Putch soldiers, Malick Diaw or their spokesman, Colonel-Major Ismaël Wagué, was warmly welcomed at the foot of the Independence Monument.

“We have come to thank you, to thank the Malian people for their support. We have only completed the work you had begun and we recognize ourselves in your struggle,” he then launched in front of the enthusiastic audience.

The head of the junta and new strongman in Mali, Colonel Assimi Goïta, “had a last-minute obstacle” and “could not make the trip”, Ismaël Wagué explained to the podium.

According to estimates by an AFP correspondent, the amount was greater than during the demonstrations organized since June by the opposition to demand the resignation of President Keita.

“Malians took responsibility”

The troops then withdrew, leaving room for the leaders of the June 5 movement (M5-RFP), the opposition coalition that for months demanded the resignation of President Keitta, who welcomed the military intervention.

“I want to unite all Malians from Kayes (West) to Kidal (North East),” said Imam Mahmoud Dicko, the influential religious leader whose role was crucial in mobilizing President Keita. The latter “thanked” the soldiers and confirmed that he will not play a role in the political negotiations: “I am going back to the mosque, I am an imam”.

“There is no coup, there is no junta, we have Malays who have taken responsibility,” said another opposition leader, Mohamed Aly Bathily.

“I’m so happy! We won. We came here to thank all the Mali people for the victory of the people,” cheered Mariam Cissé, 38, an opposition supporter.

“We are here to celebrate the victory of the people, nothing but the victory of the people. IBK failed, the people won,” said Ousmane Diallo, a 62-year-old retired soldier. But “now the military must not think about staying in power,” he warned.

Two of the personalities arrested during the coup have been released, Finance Minister Abdoulaye Daffé and the president’s private secretary, Sabane Mahalmoudou. Seventeen others are still being held, including National Assembly President Moussa Timbiné and President IBK himself.

The United States is suspending all military aid

The leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the coup, as did France. The United States has suspended all military support for Mali, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

“There is no more training or support for the armed forces in Mali. We have stopped everything until we can clarify the situation,” the US envoy for the Sahel, Peter Pham, told reporters.

This mutiny “will certainly not help” the multinational forces fighting jihadist groups in the Sahel, he added, while stressing that the United States would continue to support and cooperate with the various operations.

Washington provides in particular intelligence and surveillance capabilities, as well as logistical transportation to France, which has been leading Operation Barkhane since 2014.

Minusma, engaged since 2013, is one of the UN’s most important missions. Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad launched the G5 Sahel force in 2017.

With AFP and Reuters