Mali Junta Leader Takes Over as President, AFP Reports

The leader of Mali’s junta, Assimi Goita, is taking over as president of the transitional government hours after soldiers released the country’s civilian leaders from detention, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday, citing a military official it didn’t identify.

Interim President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, who were meant to oversee preparations for elections after an Aug. 18 coup, resigned Wednesday while still in military custody. That sparked outrage from the international community, including the United Nations Security Council, which called for their immediate release.

The ousted leaders were freed in the early hours of Thursday, AFP reported earlier, citing an unnamed military official.

The political upheaval is rocking Africa’s third-biggest gold producer, still reeling from the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August. It threatens to further destabilize a nation that’s a linchpin in an international effort to contain a mushrooming insurgency by Islamist militants in the Sahel region.

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