Mali’s two top civilian leaders, who were ousted in a military takeover this week, have been freed from army custody, a junta aide said, following a global outcry and fresh threats of sanctions from the West African nation’s allies.
They had been tasked with steering Mali back toward democracy after mutinous soldiers overthrew the government in August. But the military official acting as vice president, Col. Assimi Goita — who led the 2020 toppling — accused them of sabotaging the transition when they unveiled a new cabinet Monday without his input.
Leaving the civilian leaders at the helm, Goita said in a statement, would provoke “instability with immeasurable consequences” in the country of roughly 20 million.
The African Union, regional authorities and Western partners have roundly blasted the power grab. French President Emmanuel Macron called it a “coup d’etat within a coup d’etat,” and the U.S. State Department threatened further cuts to millions of dollars of security assistance annually sent to Mali.