The US on Friday said it had suspended cooperation with Mali's military in response to the overthrow of the president, as thousands gathered in the capital to celebrate the junta's takeover.
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The ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Tuesday has dismayed Mali's international partners, who fear it could further destabilise the former French colony and West Africa's entire Sahel region.
"Let me say categorically there is no further training or support of Malian armed forces full-stop. We have halted everything until such time as we can clarify the situation," the US Sahel envoy J. Peter Pham told journalists.
The US regularly provides training to soldiers in Mali, including several of the officers who led the coup. It also offers intelligence support to France's Barkhane forces,who are fighting jihadist groups in the Sahel region.
Pham said a decision on whether Washington would designate the actions a coup, which could trigger a cut-off of direct support to the government, had to go through a legal review. A Pentagon spokesperson referred on Friday to the events as an "act of mutiny".
There has been no word from Keita since Tuesday, when he dissolved parliament and then resigned after being detained at gunpoint, deepening the crisis facing a country struggling to fend off an insurgency by Islamist militants.
The freedom and safety of detained government officials and their families must be ensured. The U.S. has a longstanding friendship with the people of Mali and urges those involved to engage in peaceful dialogue. https://t.co/ezJ5IKcmAy
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) August 19, 2020
Crowds celebrate president's ouster, junta thanks them
Despite widespread regional and international condemnations, Keita's ouster was celebrated on the streets of the capital, Bamako on Friday with jubilant crowds gathering in the central Independence Square.
The demonstrators were mainly supporters of Mali's opposition coalition, M5-RFP, who had demonstrated since June for Keita to step down from power.
Although the coalition was not behind Tuesday's coup d'état, they issued a statement expressing support for the downfall of the government and endorsing the junta's plan to return the country to civilian rule.
“The M5-RFP welcomes the resignation of President Ibrahima Boubacar Keïta, the dissolution of the National Assembly and the government,” said the statement.
The junta in turn welcomed the coalition's support at Friday's rally in Bamako.
"We have come here to thank you, to thank the Malian public for its support. We merely completed the work that you began and we recognise ourselves in your fight," the junta's spokesman, Ismael Wague, told supporters of the M5 movement,
Mali's instability mounts
UN team meets Keita
Earlier Friday, UN human rights officials said they were given access overnight to Keita and other detainees. The UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, provided no details on what was said or on the condition of the captives.
Junta leaders have promised to oversee a transition to elections within a "reasonable" amount of time. They plan to install a transitional president who may be "either a civilian or a soldier", the junta's spokesman told FRANCE 24 in an interview on Thursday.
Colonel-Major Ismael Wague, Read More – Source