Mali President Resigns After Second Military Coup in a Year

Mali’s interim president resigned, a day after his deputy seized power in the West African nation’s second coup in less than a year.

President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane quit Wednesday while in military detention, Agence France-Presse reported, citing officials it didn’t identify. The United Nations Security Council said “a change of transitional leadership, including by forced resignations, is unacceptable” and called for the immediate release of the president and prime minister following an emergency meeting on Mali on Wednesday.

Mali President Resigns After Second Military Coup in a Year

Military Vice President Assimi Goita dismissed the civilian leaders on Tuesday for appointing a new government without consulting him. He also blamed them for nationwide strikes and protests that have shut banks and some public hospitals.

The leadership vacuum heightens uncertainty in 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.

Mali’s biggest labor union, the National Union of Malian Workers, called off its week-long strike Tuesday after N’Daw and Ouane were dismissed. The UNTM had threatened to extend the stayaway for a second week.

The U.S. announced Wednesday it was suspending security cooperation with Mali’s military. “The U.S. will also consider targeted measures against political and military leaders who impede Mali’s civilian-led transition to democratic governance,” its Department of State said in a statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron described the junta’s actions as a “coup within a coup” Monday and threatened to impose sanctions. The former colonial power has troops deployed in Mali to fight jihadists.

February Elections

The Economic Community of West African States, which took a hard-line stance against Mali after last year’s coup by temporarily shutting borders and halting financial flows, sent former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to Bamako for talks. The 15-member bloc has previously insisted that elections must be held by February 2022.

“We give our full support to the Ecowas mediation,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. “If it does not succeed, we will take sanctions against all those who prevent the transition process from developing.”

Mali produced 66.5 tons of gold in 2020, making it the third-largest producer of the metal in Africa, according to the Mali Mining and Petroleum Conference and Exhibition. Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s second-largest bullion producer, is among companies that operate in the country.

Gold operations have so far been unaffected by the political upheaval.

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