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UN representatives were able to meet on Thursday the deposed Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and other personalities arrested by the junta now in power in Mali. The latter said that 17 other people were still detained following the release of the Minister of the Economy and a close friend of IBK.
UN human rights officials met with the ousted president on the night of Thursday August 20 to Friday August 21 from Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, as well as other officials held by mutineers since the military coup earlier this week.
The UN mission was able to access the former president who has not spoken since his resignation on Tuesday and other detainees, tweeted the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma) . No details of what was said or the condition of the captives were provided.
Yesterday in the evening a team of #Human rights of MINUSMA visited #Kati as part of its mandate to protect human rights and was able to access President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and other detainees. #Mali
– MINUSMA (@UN_MINUSMA) August 21, 2020
“We have authorized a UN human rights mission in Mali to visit all 19 prisoners in Kati, including ex-president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and ex-Prime Minister Boubou Cissé,” said a junta official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
This gesture by the soldiers, who claim to want to organize a short-term political transition, comes as the opposition calls for large gatherings in the afternoon in Bamako to “celebrate the victory of the Malian people”, three days after the fall of President Keïta, in power since 2013.
Release of two prisoners
During their coup on Tuesday, the soldiers arrested President Keïta, known as “IBK”, who then announced his resignation during the night, and his Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, whom they took to the military camp of Kati, in the suburbs of Bamako, which became the center of the new power.
Other personalities were also arrested, including the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Security, Generals Ibrahima Dahirou Dembélé and M’Bemba Moussa Keïta, President of the National Assembly Moussa Timbiné and the Chief of Staff of the army, General Abdoulaye Coulibaly.
“We released two prisoners, the former Minister of Finance and the Economy Abdoulaye Daffé and Sabane Mahalmoudou”, the president’s private secretary, said the junta official. “Two prisoners have been released. There are 17 left in Kati. This is proof that we respect human rights,” he continued.
Abdoulaye Daffé is considered to be close to the Sharif of Nioro, the mentor of the figurehead of the protest who has been demanding since June the resignation of President Keïta, Imam Mahmoud Dicko.
Former Malian president “tired but calm”
The deposed president and his prime minister are still in Kati, a garrison town located about fifteen kilometers from the capital, but they have been transferred “to a villa”, where they are deprived of television, radio and telephone, according to two people who attended the visit, including a junta official.
“Their conditions of detention are acceptable,” but the Malian president, “who looked tired but calm”, does not have many changes of clothes, according to one of these sources. He was allowed to speak to an African diplomat, “from a phone that did not belong to him,” she added.
The other detainees are in the premises of a training center in Kati, where they “sleep on mattresses and share the same television”, according to witnesses interviewed by AFP.
The National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) set up by the military and led by a 37-year-old colonel, Assimi Goïta, called on the population to return to work and markets have reopened in Bamako. The streets were calm, Friday morning, for the third day in a row, before a rally organized by a coalition of opponents at the origin of a series of demonstrations against Keïta before the coup d’état and which has since supported the mutineers.
Junta leaders vowed to oversee the transition to elections within a “reasonable” timeframe. The military also announced the reopening on Friday of the land and air borders, even if the countries of West Africa have decided to close theirs with Mali, except for basic foodstuffs, medicines and energy.
The neighboring countries of Mali, meeting in extraordinary summit, demanded, Thursday, the “restoration” of President Keïta and decided to send a delegation to Bamako with a view to an “immediate return to constitutional order”.
With AFP and Reuters