UN chief demands immediate release of Mali President, PM

New York:¬†United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday (local time) demanded “the immediate and unconditional release” of Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse after they were “arrested” by the mutiny leaders.

According to a statement released by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, “The Secretary-General strongly condemns these actions and calls for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law in Mali. To this end, he demands the immediate and unconditional release of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and members of his cabinet.”

He further said that the Secretary-General is following the unfolding developments in Mali “with deep concern”.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his calls for a negotiated solution and peaceful resolution of their differences. He expresses his full support to the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States in their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis in Mali, including through the good offices of his Special Representative”

Dujarric said.

The Secretary-General has asked all stakeholders, particularly the defence and security forces, to exercise maximum restraint and uphold the human rights and individual freedoms of all Malians, he added.

According to CNN reports, Troops in Mali have arrested the country’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a suspected coup.

The Malian military units began the mutiny earlier on Tuesday, with sources telling Sputnik that rebels had arrested several ministers and high-ranking officers, with the mutiny thought to be related to servicemen’s financial grievances.

Sputnik cited local media as reporting that four military officials were responsible for organising the mutiny. The government have issued a statement signed by Maiga calling for dialogue with the mutineers.

Eyewitnesses told Sputnik that civilians have also taken to the streets of Bamako amid a lack of a security presence, with gunfire occasionally heard, and rebel soldiers firing shots in the direction of the president’s residence. Mali state broadcaster ORTM has gone offline since the incident.

According to CNN, on Tuesday, crowds took to the streets in Bamako, surrounding the capital city’s independence monument. A building owned by Mali’s Minister of Justice was set on fire and looted.

The unrest in Mali’s capital followed reports of an attempted mutiny Tuesday morning at a military camp 15 km outside of the city, confirmed to CNN by a diplomatic source who had been briefed by local officials.

CNN further said that the attempted mutiny took place in Kati, at the same camp that a successful military coup was launched back in 2012.

President Keita has been facing growing public discontent since May after the country’s top constitutional court overturned results from disputed parliamentary elections.