President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Picture: LUDOVIC MARIN/REUTERS
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Picture: LUDOVIC MARIN/REUTERS

Bamako — Army colonel Assimi Goita presented himself as head of the junta that ousted Mali's president, as its spokesperson sought to reassure citizens that daily life could resume as normal from Thursday.

Junta members met government ministry officials late on Wednesday to map out a return to stability, a day after detaining President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in a coup that has rocked a country already in the grip of a jihadist insurgency and civil unrest.

It has also been condemned by international powers and regional organisations.

“I am Col Assimi Goita, president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP)," Assimi, dressed in military fatigues, told reporters after the meeting.

“Following yesterday's event which led to the change of power we believed that it was our duty to state our position to the [ministries’] general secretaries, so they may be able to work immediately.”

The capital, Bamako, was calm for a second straight day on Thursday, a Reuters reporter said, as people appeared to heed calls by the junta's spokesperson, Col Ismael Wague, to “freely go about their business and restart activities”.

Crowds had poured into the streets of the capital on Tuesday to celebrate the coup. Little is known about the backgrounds of the junta’s leadership, which includes several other colonels.

Wague read the statement early on Wednesday morning that announced the military takeover, promising to organise national elections within a “reasonable” time.

Late on Wednesday he said public servants should also return to work from Thursday, and that the junta was taking “all measures to protect the personnel and their belongings as well as their place of work”.

Condemnation of the coup has been widespread abroad, amid concerns it could disrupt a military campaign against jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State operating in northern and central Mali and West Africa's wider Sahel region.

Heads of state from the 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which suspended Mali and shut off its borders on Tuesday, are due to hold an extraordinary virtual session on Thursday to address the situation.


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