Mali military frees president, prime minister

Bamako   –  The Malian military have released the country’s interim leaders but taken control of the government, sources said on Thursday, in moves that have fallen far short of international demands to resolve the deep crisis. President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were released overnight, a military official said, three days after they were detained and then stripped of their powers in what appeared to be the country’s second coup in nine months.

“The interim president and prime minister were released overnight around 1:30 am (0130 GMT). We were true to our word,” the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

Family members confirmed the pair had been freed and had returned to their homes in the capital Bamako, although the circumstances surrounding their release were unclear.

“I am well. I was released last night and am at home,” Ouane told AFP without giving further details.

The transitional leaders had been tasked with steering the return to civilian rule after a coup last August that toppled Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Keita was forced out by young army officers following mass protests over perceived corruption and his failure to quell a bloody jihadist insurgency.

But in a move that sparked widespread diplomatic anger, Ndaw and Ouane were detained on Monday by army officers who were apparently disgruntled by a government reshuffle. The two were held at the Kati military camp around 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako.



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