mali releases former interim president

Mali releases former interim president and PM from house detention

Former Malian interim president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane have been released from house arrest – confirmed West African bloc ECOWAS on Friday.

In a released statement, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it “welcomes” the step by Mali to release “all restrictive measures” on the former leaders.

Both of them, in August 2020, were appointed as interim civilian leaders after a coup and were charged with steering the country back towards civilian rule.

After a government reshuffle in May, Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goita deposed Ouane and Ndaw in another coup. Goita later declared himself as the interim president.

Aides to Ouane and Ndaw had confirmed that the two leaders had been retained under house arrest after their removal.

Malian authorities or their representatives have not commented on the development as yet.

The political upheaval cautioned regional allies and powers such as France – fearing they could delay a guaranteed return to civilian rule via democratic polls scheduled for February 2022.

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However, there are severe doubts about whether the government will convene the elections within such a short timeframe in the light of rampant violence across Mali.

The state has struggled to stop an armed uprising that first broke out in the north in 2012. The violence has since spread to the core of the country and neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.

Thousands of civilians and soldiers have been killed in the conflict to date.

ECOWAS, on Friday, said that the two should have all the rights as they deserve according to their roles as the former president and the former prime minister. Both had appealed against their detention to the ECOWAS Court of Justice – which in turn demanded that Mali justify their detention.

The lifting of restrictions follows an appeal by both of them. 

Since they were dismissed in May, neither Ouane nor Ndaw has publicly spoken.