Mali’s transitional president, prime minister released after military detention

Mali’s interim president and premier have been freed from military detention, senior military and government officials said Thursday. Their release came three days after President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were detained and stripped of their powers in what appeared to be the country’s second coup in nine months.

“The interim president and prime minister were released overnight around 1.30am [local time]. We were true to our word,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Family members confirmed that President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane had been freed.

The two men have returned to their homes in the capital Bamako, those close to them said, though the conditions of their release were not clear.

The development came a day after military officials said the country’s transitional president and prime minister had “resigned” while in detention, a move the UN called “unacceptable”.

Ndaw and Ouane, tasked with steering the return to civilian rule after a coup last August, were detained by the military on Monday in what the international community called a military coup.

Over the past few days, the UN, along with the African Union and other international bodies, as well as the US, have repeatedly urged Mali’s military to release the transitional leaders.

Ndaw and Ouane had been heading the interim government with the declared aim of restoring full civilian rule within 18 months.

The leader of Mali’s 2020 coup, Col. Assimi Goita, who has been serving as the transitional vice president since September, seized control of the West African country earlier this week by deposing the two leaders in an unprecedented move.

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