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Regional Envoys to Visit Mali After Military Detains Transition Leaders

Military detain Mali's president, prime minister and defense minister in the capital Bamako, and taken to the military’s headquarters in nearby Kati, May 25, 2021.

A delegation from the regional bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) is heading to Mali Tuesday, a day after the West African nation’s military detained the president and prime minister.

A joint statement issued Tuesday by ECOWAS, the United Nations, African Union and other international bodies called for the release of President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, who were detained in the capital, Bamako, and taken to the military’s headquarters in nearby Kati.

President N’daw and Prime Minister Ouane, along with Defense Minister Souleymane Doucoure, were seized hours after announcing a cabinet reshuffle that left out two members of the military.

The two men were chosen to head a civilian transitional government last year, just a month after the military seized power after ousting then-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The transitional government was created to lay the groundwork for presidential and legislative elections by next February.

Mali has been in turmoil since then-President Amadou Toumani Touré was toppled in a military coup in 2012 that led ethnic Tuareg rebels to seize control of several northern towns, which were then taken over by Islamic insurgents. France deployed forces to repel the insurgents the following year, but the rebels have continued to operate in rural areas.