Rebel troops seized Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a dramatic escalation Tuesday of a months-long crisis.
Neighbouring states in West Africa, along with France, the European Union and the African Union, condemned the sudden mutiny and warned against any unconstitutional change of power in the fragile country.
The UN Security Council will hold emergency talks on the crisis on Wednesday, diplomats in New York said.
“We can tell you that the president and the prime minister are under our control” after they were “arrested” at Keita’s residence in the capital Bamako, a rebel leader, who requested anonymity, told AFP.
Boubou Doucoure, who works as Cisse’s director of communications, confirmed that the pair had been detained and had been driven in armoured vehicles to an army base in the town of Kati, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) away.
Mutineering troops had seized the base hours earlier before taking control of the surrounding streets and driving in convoy to the capital Bamako, according to an AFP journalist.
A 2012 putsch that opened the way to Keita’s presidency began in the Kati base — and fears quickly grew of another coup attempt in the notoriously unstable country.
Jubilant crowds in the city centre, which had gathered to demand Keita’s resignation, cheered the rebels as they made their way to the 75-year-old’s official residence.