The President and Prime Minister of Mali have resigned on Wednesday, following their arrest and detention outside the capital by the military on Monday.
Malian President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were taken to a military base outside the capital on Monday after a cabinet reshuffle in which two officers lost their posts.
The intervention led by Vice President Assimi Goita has jeopardised Mali’s transition back to democracy after a coup in August overthrew former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. It has provoked international condemnation and raised fears that a political crisis in Bamako could affect regional security.
Goita, a colonel, also orchestrated last year’s coup. He has promised that elections planned for next year will go ahead.
“The president and his prime minister have resigned. Negotiations are ongoing for their liberation and the formation of a new government,” said Baba Cisse, an aide to Goita said.
The resignations came as a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) visited Mali to press the military to back down.
According to Reuters, during a meeting late on Tuesday with Goita, the delegation, led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, raised the possibility of sanctions against the officers responsible for the takeover, according to a military official who was present.
It had been due to meet Ndaw and Ouane on Wednesday, but it was not immediately clear if that had happened.
It is not clear if ECOWAS would be satisfied with a replacement president and prime minister, or if it will insist on Ndaw and Ouane being reinstated. ECOWAS and other powers want a civilian-led transition to democracy to continue.
ECOWAS imposed sanctions, including border closures, on Mali after the coup in August before lifting them when Goita’s junta agreed to an 18-month, civilian-led transition.