Mali’s president said he was resigning to avoid “bloodshed” early Wednesday, hours after his arrest by troops in a sudden coup that followed a months-long political crisis in the fragile West African nation.
Rebel soldiers detained Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Tuesday afternoon and drove the pair to a military base in the town of Kati, near the capital Bamako, which they had seized that morning.
Jubilant crowds in the city centre, gathered to demand Keita’s resignation, had cheered the rebels as they made their way to the 75-year-old’s official residence.
Keita appeared calm as he appeared in a state television broadcast after midnight to declare the dissolution of the government and national assembly, and said he had no choice but to resign with immediate effect.
“If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said of the day’s events.
“(I must) submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed.”
It was unclear whether Keita was still in custody at the Kati base, which in a twist of fate was also the site of the 2012 putsch that brought him to power.
Neighbouring states, France and the European Union all warned against any unconstitutional transfer of power as the coup played out on Tuesday.