Mali's President, Prime Minister Fired by Vice President After Cabinet Reshuffle

Assimi Goita, the former coup leader of Mali, seized power again on Tuesday and fired the president and prime minister of the transitional government after they announced a cabinet reorganization without his permission.

Despite Goita's promises to honor new elections in 2022, the repossession of the government signals that the vote may not proceed without significant interference by the junta that overthrew the last democratically elected president.

Goita's actions have also sparked fears that the new unrest could further destabilize efforts to control the West African country's Islamic insurgency. The United Nations pumps roughly $1.2 billion a year to maintain peacekeeping efforts in Mali.

The military's repossession of power on state television follows the arrest of President Bah N'Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, who were detained by soldiers and brought to military headquarters in Kati nine miles from the capital. They were still detained on Tuesday.

N'Daw
Transitional Mali President Bah N'Daw arrives for the Summit on the Financing of African Economies at the Grand Palais Ephemere in Paris, on May 18, 2021. N'Daw and his prime minister were detained by the military on Monday after its leader reclaimed power. Getty Images/Ian LANGSDON / POOL / AFP)

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Their arrests prompted an outcry by the international community, which put out a strongly worded statement warning Mali's military leaders that their actions could undermine global support for the transitional government. The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS was sending a delegation to Bamako on Tuesday afternoon as the political crisis escalated.

Goita has served as Mali's vice president since the transitional government was formed last September in the wake of his coup d'etat despite initial calls from the international community for an entirely civilian-led transition.

In announcing the removal of the president and prime minister of the transitional government, the military also said that it would be relieving others from their duties including "everyone implicated in the situation."

Still, the military insisted: "The transition is following its normal course and elections will be held as anticipated in 2022." Following international pressure last year the junta had promised to organize that vote by next February, 18 months after the coup d'etat shook the country.

The overthrow of democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came amid mounting military casualties in the fight against Islamic militants linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

The extremists first took control of major towns in northern Mali after the 2012 coup. Only a 2013 military intervention led by the former colonial power France pushed extremists out of those towns. France and a U.N. force have continued to battle the extremist rebels, who operate in rural areas and regularly attack roads and cities.

Mali Crisis
Malian police gather outside the Bourse du Travail where striking workers gathered to protest the arrest of President Bah N'Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane by military personnel in Bamako, Mali, Tuesday May 25, 2021. Their detentions came just hours after a government reshuffle left out two members of the junta that seized power in a coup nine months earlier. The African Union, United Nations and West African regional bloc are calling for their immediate release. AP Photo/AP Photo