Home News Mali coup: Thousands take to Bamako streets to celebrate

Mali coup: Thousands take to Bamako streets to celebrate

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Thousands have taken to the streets of Mali’s capital to celebrate the coup against Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

Coup leaders arrested Mr Keïta on Tuesday and forced him to resign, sparking global condemnation.

But Mr Keïta was facing huge street protests before his arrest and many in Mali have welcomed his removal.

Thousands gathered in Bamako’s Independence Square to the sound of vuvuzelas, with many declaring victory over the former president.

“I am overjoyed, we won. We came here to thank all the people of Mali because it is the victory of the people,” Mariam Cissé, an opposition supporter, told the AFP news agency.

“IBK has failed,” said retired soldier Ousmane Diallo, using a common reference to the ousted president by his initials. “The people are victorious.”

However, he cautioned, “the military should not be thinking now that they can stay in power”.

West African leaders have called for Mr Keïta to be reinstated and the UN says all those detained should be freed.

But coup leaders say they are talking to opposition parties about appointing a transitional president, who could be civilian or military.

Mali has several jihadi groups in its northern deserts and there are fears they could take advantage of the coup.

They did so following the previous military takeover in 2012.

The coup leaders have promised to respect international agreements on fighting jihadists. Thousands of French, African and UN troops are based in the country to tackle the militants.

In another development, an opposition leader kidnapped by militants in March ahead of disputed elections has written letters to his family, says the International Committee of the Red Cross. This is the first contact they have had since Soumaïla Cissé was seized in a case that shocked the country, reports the AFP news agency.

Mr Keïta won a second term in elections in 2018, but since June has faced huge street protests over corruption, mismanagement of the economy and disputed legislative elections.

There has also been anger among troops about pay and the conflict with jihadists, which has seen scores of soldiers killed in the past year.

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