Mali Coup: Colonel Goita declares self head of junta

Malian army officer Colonel Assimi Goita announced himself on Wednesday as the coup leader who overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

“Let me introduce myself, I am Colonel Assimi Goita, chairman of the National Committee for the salvation of the People,” he said after meeting top civil servants.

The colonel had appeared among a group of officers seen on television overnight Tuesday-Wednesday to announce the takeover, but did not speak.

Coup chiefs meanwhile called on the public to return to normal life, warned against acts of “vandalism” and threatened to punish any soldier found guilty of extortion.

But they made no reference to the detained leaders or their whereabouts.

The dramatic events in one of Africa’s most volatile countries began early Tuesday, when rebel officers mutinied at a base near Bamako and headed into the city, where they detained Keita and Cisse.

Hours later, Keita – beset by angry protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency — announced his resignation.

He said he had been given no other choice but to quit, and sought to avoid bloodshed.

Jubilant crowds had cheered the rebels on Tuesday as they arrived in the capital Bamako.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday condemned a mutiny and urged the soldiers involved to immediately release all government officials they had detained and and return to their barracks without delay.

The 15-member council was briefed after soldiers ousted Mali’s president in a coup. Those soldiers promised on Wednesday to oversee elections within a “reasonable” time and moved swiftly to hold talks with one of the West African nation’s most influential power brokers.

Credit: AFP/Reuters

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