Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, announced Wednesday that he is resigning from his post because he does not wish blood to be shed following a military mutiny that plunged the country into a political crisis.
Looking tired and wearing a surgical mask, Keita resigned in a brief address broadcast on state television after troops seized him along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top officials.
“Today, certain parts of the military have decided that intervention was necessary. Do I really have a choice? Because I do not wish blood to be shed,” he said from a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako where he had been detained earlier in the day.
Keita said that he has decided “to give up my duty from now on.”
It is unclear if the military is now officially in charge of the country.
Earlier, Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were detained by soldiers in a dramatic escalation of a months-long crisis in the country.
The development came hours after soldiers took up arms and staged a mutiny at a key base in Kati, a town close to Bamako.
The soldiers were expected to deliver a statement later, while countries in West Africa, along with former colonial power France, the European Union and the African Union, denounced the actions of the soldiers and warned against any unconstitutional change of power.
The events came amid a weeks-long political crisis that has seen opposition protesters taking to the streets to demand the departure of Keita, accusing him of allowing the country’s economy to collapse and mishandling a worsening security situation.
Mali’s years-long conflict, in which ideologically-motivated armed groups have stoked ethnic tensions while jockeying for power, has spilt into the neighbouring countries of Niger and Burkina Faso, destabilising the wider Sahel region and creating a massive humanitarian crisis.
On Tuesday, protesters gathered at a square in Bamako in a show of support for the soldiers, while foreign embassies advised their citizens to stay indoors.