Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned abruptly on Tuesday after soldiers detained him at gunpoint in what appears to be a military coup.
Mali has been wracked by unrest since June by protesters calling for Keita’s resignation after he failed to fulfill his campaign promises. The world watches with concern as the situation in Mali deteriorates because the destabilization of the Western African nation has major security implications for the US and the UN.
“If today, certain elements of our armed forces want this to end through their intervention, do I really have a choice?” Keita said as he was being held at a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako.
“I wish no blood to be shed to keep me in power,” Keita continued. “I have decided to step down from office.”
Mali has suffered political unrest for the better part of a decade, and this latest upheaval is reportedly due to protests against Keita’s administration and a worsening insurgency from Islamist militants north of the capital, Bamako.
CNN reported that “Mali shares borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, and all three countries have struggled with the growing presence of Islamist groups.”
Mali’s increasing instability could have broader implications for the region’s security, observers say, and some believe the unrest could spread as far as coastal West Africa.
The coup and Keita’s subsequent resignation have been condemned by the African Union, the United States, and the regional bloc known as ECOWAS which was involved in attempting to mediate Mali’s political crisis.
France, which colonized Mali in the late 19th century, along with the United Nations, has been running a peacekeeping operation in Mali since the nation’s last coup in 2012.
Leaders of the coup have indicated that they desire “credible regional elections” held within a “reasonable timeframe,” but French leaders expressed fears that Keita’s downfall could further destabilize Mali and West Africa’s entire Sahel region too greatly.
In July 2020, President Trump issued a press release announcing a continuation of an earlier national emergency declaration in regard to the situation in Mali due to the civil unrest and growing terrorism within the nation posing an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
President Trump has yet to issue an official statement on Keita’s resignation.