About 72 hours after a military coup in Mali overthrew the civilian government, President Ibrahim Keita, who was arrested alongside others, is still in detention.
The mutineers have, however, released two of his officials.
Since Tuesday when Mr Keita announced his resignation from government and the dissolution of the parliament on television after being held at gunpoint, no news was heard of him until United Nations human rights officials met him and other officials midnight Thursday, the UN mission in Mali tweeted on Friday.
There was no further information about the ousted president’s condition or what was discussed.
But on Friday, the mutineers freed two of the captives while still detaining the 75-year-old president, an ally of Mr Keita told Reuters.
“They were freed but I don’t know in what condition,” the head of Keita’s party, Bocary Treta, told Reuters.
It remains unclear whether the UN peace mission to the mutineers resulted in the release of the two officials – the finance minister, Abdoulaye Daffe, and the president’s private secretary, Sabane Mahalmoudou. The coup orchestrators had earlier rejected foreign interference, particularly ECOWAS’s demands of restoring Mr Keita to power.
The military leaders had on Tuesday promised to create a transitional government as they held discussions with an opposition coalition and civil society groups.
They pledged to oversee a transition to elections within a “reasonable” amount of time.
Despite the calm that followed the coup, many people are not sure of what the future holds for the troubled West African State that has had two coups in eight years amidst struggles to fend off a ravaging insurgency in the north.
“As it is, for now, we don’t have a clear view of their (mutineers’) plans and vision. The people of Mali are currently navigating in some kind of darkness,” Cheick Doumbia, a political analyst from Mali told PREMIUM TIMES.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mali has been mired in a months-long political stalemate after the opposition rejected results of local elections held earlier this year. They had called for Mr Keita’s resignation for perceived government corruption and incompetence.
Tensions escalated in July when at least 11 people were killed during three days of unrest following a protest.
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The opposition group rejected attempts at mediation and vowed to continue staging rallies against him.
In July, Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan led a delegation of ECOWAS leaders to broker peace in the country where a unity government was recommended.
But the crisis persisted until it resulted in a military takeover on Tuesday.
In response to the coup, ECOWAS suspended Mali’s membership, shut off borders and halted financial flows to the country.
Now, as the 15-nation ECOWAS aims to reverse the regime change by force in Mali after demanding that Mr Keita be returned as the president, military junta and many Malians have rejected the bloc’s demands.
Ahead of the arrival of a delegation of ECOWAS in Mali’s capital, Bamako, a mass demonstration is planned by an opposition coalition that led protests against Mr Keita, AFP reports.