Unidentified Elements Take Control of Army Base

Aug 19, 2020

On 18 August 2020, unidentified elements within the military reportedly took control of an army base in Kati, a garrison town located approximately 15 km (9 mi) northwest of the capital Bamako, and arrested several senior military officers. A military spokesperson confirmed that shots were fired at the Kati barrack but provided no additional details. Armored tanks and military vehicles have occupied the streets of Kati and entry and exits into the town are blocked. Meanwhile, an official at the Ministry of Internal Security confirmed the arrests of high-ranking officials. Unconfirmed reports state that the military’s chief of general staff, the minister of foreign affairs and finance and the speaker of the National Assembly were among those arrested. Furthermore, gunfire was reportedly heard near the prime minister’s office in Bamako. A French military source stated that discussion between Mali’s army command and the unidentified elements within the military that perpetrated the arrests are currently ongoing. Government employees and the Office of Radio and Television of Mali (ORTM) reportedly began evacuating Bamako in light of the unrest, and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has reportedly been relocated to a secure location.

Several Western governments, including the embassies of France, Norway and Spain warned their respective citizens to avoid the conflict and to stay home if possible. Additionally, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUMSA) advised U.N. personnel to avoid the Kati zone and unnecessary road travel in Bamako until further notice. The army base in Kati — where the alleged mutiny began — was the site of the 2012 mutiny that led to a coup d’état and ousting of former President Amadou Toumani Toure. Separately, disruptive protests calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita have been ongoing in Bamako since June. Although it remains unknown whether the protests — organized by the June 5 Movement (M5) — have any link to the ongoing unrest, reports indicate that several hundred protesters are currently gathered in Bamako for a previously scheduled demonstration. The situation in Mali remains volatile due to both the ongoing unrest and M5 protests.

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