The African Union has condemned the forced arrest and detention of the president of Mali and his Prime Minister following a military coup.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said that he has decided “to give up my duty from now on.”
President Keita and his Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were detained by soldiers in a dramatic escalation of a months-long crisis in the country.
The developing situation came hours after soldiers took up arms and staged a mutiny at a key base in Kati, a town close to Bamako.
Mali has been enduring a tense political crisis that has seen opposition protesters taking to the streets to demand the departure of Keita, accusing him of allowing the country’s economy to collapse and mishandling a worsening security situation.
According to eye witnesses, the opposition protestors on Tuesday gathered at a square in the capital Bamako in a show of support for military, while foreign embassies advised their citizens to stay indoors.
Those following closely the uprising say the military were expected to deliver a statement later.
However, former colonial power France with the support of the European Union and the African Union, have denounced the actions of the soldiers and warned against any unconstitutional change of power.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU Commission Chairperson said in a statement that he strongly rejects any attempt at the unconstitutional change of government in Mali and calls on the mutineers to cease all recourse to violence, and calls for the respect of the country’s institutions.
He condemned the forced detention of the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other members of the Malian Government and calls for their immediate release.
“Today, certain parts of the military have decided that intervention was necessary. Do I really have a choice? Because I do not wish blood to be shed,” Keita said in a brief statement broadcast on national television.
It is unclear if the Malian military is now officially in charge of the country and have not provided the roadmap to this transition.