Mali government says it foiled counter-coup attempt
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s government led by a double putschist announced late Monday that security forces had foiled an attempted counter-coup that it said was backed by an unnamed Western government.
The announcement was the latest turmoil to unfold in Mali, where Colonel Assimi Goita led coups in 2020 and 2021 before becoming president of the West African nation.
The press release did not name the country it accused. However, relations with the former French colonizer deteriorated significantly under Goita’s rule, prompting the French military to begin a withdrawal of its forces which had spent nine years fighting Islamic extremists.
“These soldiers were supported by a Western state,” said the statement signed by government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga.
“The government of the Republic of Mali condemns with the utmost rigor this disgraceful attack on state security, the purpose of which is to hinder – even to annihilate – the substantial efforts to secure our country and return to a constitutional order guaranteeing peace and stability. “, continues the press release.
The government press release, also read by Maiga on state television, gave few details but said security forces put down the coup last Wednesday night. He added that security had been tightened at checkpoints on roads leaving the capital, Bamako, in a bid to catch the accomplices.
Accusations of foreign interference come as Goita’s regime becomes increasingly isolated. A day earlier, the government spokesman announced that Mali was withdrawing from a five-nation regional security force known as the G5.
And last month he announced he was permanently suspending French media outlets Radio France International and France 24, two of the most listened to news outlets in the West African country. Malian authorities have accused RFI and France 24 of publishing false reports on abuses committed by Malian soldiers.
Mali’s government has also accused the French military of violating the country’s airspace and denounced what it called the unauthorized use of surveillance drones. The allegations came after France released videos appearing to show Russian mercenaries burying bodies near a military base in northern Mali, which had been handed over by the French to Malian forces.
France and other countries strongly condemned the August 2020 overthrow of the democratically elected President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Nine months later, Goita launched a second coup when he sacked the country’s interim civilian rulers and became president himself.
While the junta initially agreed to an 18-month transition to civilian rule, it failed to hold elections by the February deadline. Last month, the government said it would need another two years in office before it could hold a vote.
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.