Emanuel Macron Promises French Sanctions for Mali as President Resigns After Detainment

French President Emmanuel Macron promised more sanctions for Mali as transitional President Bah N'Daw resigns while in detainment, the Associated Press reported.

Macron described the detention of the transitional leaders as a coup d'etat and on Wednesday warned of repercussions, including targeted sanctions.

Gabriel Attal, a French government spokesman said, "We were very clear with the junta: the transition must include civilians. It must be peaceful, it must be inclusive and it must be limited in time. What has happened with what amount to a coup d'etat within the coup d'etat constitutes for us a rupture of confidence."

AP also reported that the European Union has warned that is it "ready to consider targeted measures against political and military leader who obstruct the Malian transition."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

President Macron with Interim President N'Daw
French President Emmanuel Macron (left) greets Mali's interim president, Bah N'Daw, before the opening session of the Summit on the Financing of African Economies on May 18, 2021, in Paris. Ludovic Marin/Getty Images

The resignation by the leader of an 18-month civilian transitional government risks plunging the troubled nation into further instability and comes as representatives of the West African regional bloc are in Mali to mediate the political crisis, officials said Wednesday.

The U.N., the African Union and other international bodies have urged Mali's military to release the transitional leaders.

N'Daw dismissed Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on Wednesday before handing in his own resignation letter to transitional Vice President Col. Assimi Goita, who led the 2020 coup, according to a military official. A West African diplomat who is involved in mediations also confirmed the resignation and dismissal. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak to the press on the subject.

It is not known the conditions under which the two transitional leaders are being held.

Goita likely intends to take power himself to control the transition, the diplomat said.

On Tuesday, Goita retook control of Mali, saying he had deposed the president and prime minister because they had formed a new government without consulting him. The two were arrested Monday by the military hours after naming a new Cabinet that did not include two major former junta leaders.

International mediation with Mali's military, led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan of the West African regional body known as ECOWAS began Tuesday and stretched into Wednesday at the Kati military camp outside the capital, Bamako, where the deposed leaders have been held.

Jonathan, who arrived Tuesday night with the West African delegation, said they came to Mali as a mediation team to listen to different parties, including the military, civil society groups and others.

"There is cordial discussion, friendly discussion going on for the common interest of the people of Mali," Jonathan told journalists Tuesday night after meeting with and other members of the military and government.

Jonathan earlier acted as mediator in the political crisis last year after the junta detained former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Aug. 18 forcing him to resign. ECOWAS previously threatened the junta with sanctions if it did not install a civilian president and prime minister, and shorten the transitional period to 18 months.

When Goita spoke Tuesday, he pledged to move forward with new elections in 2022 as previously promised. But his display of force casts doubt that there won't be further significant interference by the junta that overthrew the last democratically elected president.

The instability also worries the international community that the new political unrest could further destabilize efforts to control Mali's long-running Islamic insurgency. The United Nations now spends some $1.2 billion annually on a peacekeeping mission in Mali and France's military has spent eight years trying to stabilize its former colony amid the ongoing threat.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for calm and the immediate release of the detained civilian leaders, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said late Tuesday.

"This action has serious consequences for Mali and the region as a whole," Dujarric said.

Goita's claim to power Tuesday came a day after the transitional president and prime minister were arrested by soldiers and brought to the military headquarters in Kati, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) outside the capital. Their arrests came hours after a new Cabinet was announced. That new government had left out two men who were prominent junta members.

The African Union, United Nations, the E.U., France and the U.S. among others immediately warned Mali's military leaders that their actions could undermine global support for the country.

Goita, who led the junta calling itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, has served as Mali's vice president in the transitional government formed last September. He has held that position despite initial calls from the international community for an entirely civilian-led transition.

There has been widespread concern the upheaval in Mali over the past year has further set back efforts to contain the militants linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State groups that have created instability in the region for nearly a decade.

Col. Assimi Goita Mali
Col. Assimi Goita regained control of Mali by deposing the president and prime minister of the transitional government in an unprecedented move. But Goita, who has served as vice president, is promising to still hold new elections next year. Above, Goita arrives to meet with a regional delegation at the Ministry of Defense in the capital city of Bamako on August 24, 2020. Baba Ahmed/Associated Press

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