Gunshots at army base trigger suspicion of Coup d’etat in Mali

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

By Benprince Ezeh

THERE is suspicion that coup d’ etat against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita may have taken place in Bamako, Mali, as residents and security sources said there was gunfire at the army base in Kati, about 15 km (9 miles) outside the capital city.

It was not clear who was firing the shots and at whom, Reuters reported on Tuesday, August 18.

Realnews recalls that there was a mutiny in 2012 which led to a coup d’etat in Bamako.

But Reuters quoted a source who handles security for non-governmental organisations in Mali, saying that gunfire had also been heard near the office of Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, the prime minister of Mali.

Kalifa Naman, a senior official at state television ORTM, said its headquarters has been evacuated. There have been no reports of any attack on state TV, which was still broadcasting recorded programming, as usual.

“The embassy has been notified of a mutiny in the Armed Forces and troops are on their way to Bamako. Norwegians should exercise caution and preferably stay at home until the situation is clear,” the Norwegian Embassy said in an alert to its citizens.

“Yes, mutiny. The military has taken up arms,” a security source said. A military spokesman confirmed that gunshots were fired at the base in Kati, but said he did not have any further information.

Opponents of the current president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, have led mass protests since June calling on Keita to resign over what they say are his failures to restore security and address corruption.

At least 14 people have been killed in the protests, according to the United Nations and human rights activists.

Regional powers are worried that any prolonged unrest from the protests could derail the fight against Islamist militants in the region, many of whom are centred in Mali. Their presence has rendered large areas of the centre and north of Mali ungovernable.

Keita had hoped that concessions to opponents and recommendations from a mediating delegation of regional leaders would help stem the tide of dissatisfaction.

In a message to its citizens on Thursday morning, the French Embassy in Bamako said: “Because of serious unrest this morning, Aug. 18, in the city of Bamako, it is immediately recommended to remain at home.”

The 2012 mutiny at the base led to a coup that toppled then-President Amadou Toumani Toure and contributed to the fall of northern Mali to jihadist militants.

Realnews reports that on June 19, António Guterres, the United Nations, UN Secretary-General, appealed for calm in Mali, following protests in the capital, Bamako.

“The Secretary-General calls on all political leaders to send clear messages to their supporters to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action likely to fuel tensions,” a statement from the UN office stated.

“He also stresses the importance of dialogue and encourages all Malian actors to work inclusively and constructively to preserve the rule of law and respect fundamental rights,” it stated.

– With reports from Reuters.

– Aug. 18, 2020 @ 14:19 GMT |

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