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The military promises elections in Mali in a "reasonable period"

Colonel Assimi Goita has been appointed this Wednesday President of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People
Colonel Ismaël Wague, spokesman for the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, at a press conference in Kati, Mali, Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Arouna Sissoko / AP  -   Colonel Ismaël Wague, spokesman for the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, at a press conference in Kati, Mali, Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Instability and uncertainty threaten Mali's future. Colonel Assimi Goita was appointed on Wednesday as President of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, just one day after the President of this country, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in power since 2013, submitted his resignation and that of his entire government, hours after he was arrested in a military coup.

The African Union (AU), the European Union, the United States and the UN Security Council have all condemned Keita's detention and demanded his release, as well as that of Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and others captured in Tuesday's coup. "Mali is in a situation of socio-political crisis. There is no longer any room for error. With yesterday's intervention, what we have done is put the country above all, Mali above all," said Assimi Goita after presenting himself as president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP).  

Goita, according to the EFE news agency, was not among the favorites to lead this military junta, but the names that sounded were those of Colonel Malick Diaw and also Colonel Sadiou Camara. The CNSP has invited the secretaries general of the ministries to hold a meeting at the headquarters of the Department of Defence to continue their work and guarantee the provision of public services. 

Fuerzas de seguridad en Bamako, Mali, el miércoles 19 de agosto de 2020
Baba Ahmed / AP -Security forces in Bamako, Mali, on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 

Furthermore, in the circumstances, the AU has announced its decision to suspend Mali as a member of the organization until constitutional order is restored in the country. In a statement posted on the social network Twitter, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemned the forced detention of Mali's President and rejected "any attempt at unconstitutional change of government in Mali. In the same official statement, he also called on the rioters to "stop resorting to violence and opt for respect for the country's institutions". On the other hand, he urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations and the entire international community to "oppose any use of force as a means of ending the political crisis in Mali".

The leaders of the movement that overthrew President Keita last Tuesday have announced that they plan to establish a transitional government and hold elections. This incident comes at a critical time for the African nation, where since last June a series of mass protests have been taking place, the main slogan of which was the resignation of Keita who was criticised for not being able to tackle the corruption plaguing the country or restore security. The leadership behind the coup called on the international community on Wednesday to continue supporting Mali at this time and said that the arrest of the president and prime minister was justified "by years of bad government, corruption, nepotism and a deterioration in the security situation". 

"Political patronage, the familiar management of state affairs, has killed any chance of development in what little remains of this beautiful country," stressed the spokesman for the National Committee for the Salvation of the People Ismaël Wague, in a speech picked up by The New York Times. "We are interested in the stability of the country, which will allow us to organize general elections to enable Mali to equip itself with solid institutions within a reasonable time frame," he added in a speech in which he appeared flanked by soldiers and called for a "political transition leading to credible general elections for the exercise of democracy through a roadmap that will lay the foundations for a new Mali".

During this speech, he also announced the closure of all land and air borders and the imposition of a curfew from 9pm to 5am. "Our country is sinking into chaos, anarchy and insecurity mainly because of the people who are in charge of its destiny," he said. 

The coalition " Movement 5 June - Patriotic Forces Group" (M5-RFP) has announced on Wednesday its intention to cooperate with the military who took power in the country last Tuesday, according to AFP, which has had access to the opposition's statement.  This movement has assured that it "will work on the development of a plan of action to be negotiated with the National Committee for the Salvation of the People and all the powers of the country. The leaders of the military coup have held a series of talks with some of the top representatives of the opposition who have welcomed the overthrow of President Keita. 

The day before, the Malian leader appeared on television to announce that the National Assembly and the government would be dissolved as a result of his departure. "I do not want more blood to be spilled to keep me in power," he said during his speech. In recent years, the opposition has repeatedly accused Keita and his government of cronyism and corruption, especially after the August 2018 elections when Keita won re-election in what the opposition parties say were a series of irregularities.  The government ignored Malian society and reconvened elections this March despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, increased violence and the kidnapping by armed men of the main opposition leader, Soumaila Cisse. 

In addition, the country's economy, which is mainly dependent on gold and cotton, has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing insurgency. This situation has led in recent months to thousands of people, led by a coalition of politicians, civil society leaders and a popular magnet, taking to the streets to demand Keita's resignation.​​​​​​​