Bamako-Thousands of anti-government protesters returned to the streets in Mali Tuesday, resuming their months-long push to topple President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who they accuse of presiding over corruption and impunity in the poor Sahel nation.

Demonstrators gathered in a central square in the capital despite rainfall and pleas from mediators to stay at home, with many blowing plastic vuvuzela horns and brandishing anti-government banners. 

“We want real change in Mali, IBK get out,” read one, referring to Keita’s initials. The gathering marks the first time the June 5 Movement has staged a protest since July, when the opposition group declared a temporary truce in their campaign to oust Keita.

The group has channelled deep anger over a dire economy, perceived government corruption and Mali’s eight-year jihadist conflict.

Keita had “put in place an oligarchic and plutocratic system of predation based on corruption and impunity” that had destroyed Mali, the movement -- named after the date of its first protest -- said in a statement. “This combat is to restore the Malian nation,” Mahmoud Dicko, the Saudi-trained imam viewed as its figurehead, told protesters.  

“If IBK doesn’t listen to us, he will see. I swear before God that he will see. But if we don’t rush, we will win this victory.” 

Late Tuesday night, many protesters remained encamped on the square with a handful of opposition leaders.

The demonstration went ahead despite a call to stay home from Nigeria’s ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, a mediator for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“Demonstrations do not solve problems per se,” Jonathan told a news conference late on Monday, urging opposition figures to enter into dialogue.  The June 5 Movement has repeatedly spurned compromise proposals put forward by ECOWAS, insisting on Keita’s resignation. 

It added in the statement on Tuesday that the president had resorted to “scornful silence” and “simulated solutions” in response to opposition demands.  “Keita’s... misgovernance dangerously threatens the very existence of our country as a state,” the statement said.