Mali ’s president has resigned and dissolved parliament after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint on Tuesday.
In a televised address, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said his resignation, three years before his final term was due to end, was effective immediately.
“I wish no blood to be shed to keep me in power,” he said.
“I have decided to step down from office.”
The mutinous soldiers behind the military coup, who identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, promised on Wednesday morning to organise new elections after their takeover.
“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” said committee spokesperson Colonel-Major Ismael Wague.
He also announced that borders were closed and the introduction of a curfew from 9pm to 5am.
The dramatic seizure of power follows months of protests demanding the ousting of Mr Keita, and plunges the west African country, which is already facing an eight-year jihadi insurgency and the coronavirus pandemic, further into crisis.
While anti-government demonstrators celebrated Mr Keita’s departure, the international community, including former colonial ruler France and other allies, raised concerns of a potentially destabilising effect on the entire Sahel region.
The United Nations Security Council scheduled a closed meeting for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the UN has maintained a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission since 2013.
Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, sought “the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law”, a spokesperson said.
Mr Keita, who was democratically elected by a landslide in 2013 and re-elected five years later, was detained along with the prime minister, Boubou Cisse, at a military camp near the capital Bamako on Tuesday.
Support for the president had plummeted over the government’s handling of the jihadi insurgency, and calls for his resignation grew louder after he was accused of corruption and mismanaging the economy.
Regional mediators from the Economic Community of West African States had failed in recent weeks to break the impasse between Mr Keita’s government and opposition leaders.