Opposition supporters react to the news of a possible mutiny of soldiers in the military base in Kati, outside the capital.
Opposition supporters react to the news of a possible mutiny of soldiers in the military base in Kati, outside the capital Bamako, at Independence Square in Bamako, Mali, Aug. 18, 2020.

WASHINGTON/BAMAKO, MALI - A West African economic bloc is sealing member states’ borders with Mali after mutinous soldiers arrested President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse Tuesday.   

The Economic Community of West African States – ECOWAS – says it is also suspending all financial transactions between Mali and its 14 other members and is, for now, removing Mali from its decision-making bodies.  

ECOWAS officials have called for sanctions on those it calls “putschists and their partners and collaborators.”  

An  African Union Commission spokesman says Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat strongly condemns the arrests of Keita and Cisse and strongly rejects any attempted unconstitutional change of government in Mali.   

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and the rule of law in Mali. Council members France and Niger have called for a closed-door meeting of the Security Council Wednesday. 

Opposition supporters react to the news of a possible mutiny of soldiers in the military base in Kati, outside the capital Bamako, at Independence Square in Bamako, Mali, Aug. 18, 2020.

A reporter for VOA’s French to Africa service says soldiers surrounded Keita’s house in the capital of Bamako and took him into custody. They brought him and Cisse to a military camp in Kati.  

Another reporter in Mali told VOA that soldiers in Kati “went on the rampage, got to the arsenals, got the guns, started shooting in the air, went out and cut off access to the camp.”  

Kati is the same camp where the 2012 coup that overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure began.   

FILE - Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita wears a face mask during the G5 Sahel summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

No casualties have been reported from Tuesday’s uprising and as of late Tuesday, soldiers were reported to be moving freely through Bamako.  

Opposition supporters in Mali have held a number of large protests since June, demanding Keita’s resignation. Clashes between security forces and protesters in July killed at least 11 people.   

Critics blame Keita for a faltering economy and for failing to stop an eight-year Islamist insurgency in the north. Tensions escalated in April after the Constitutional Court overturned results from a disputed parliamentary election, allowing Keita’s party to take a majority of the vacant seats.   

VOA English to Africa, French to Africa and the Bambara service contributed to this report.