Briefing correspondents based in New York, Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that according to the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MINUSMA, there was relative calm on the streets, with no major incidents reported.
“While banks and large businesses have remained closed, most local shops and markets have reopened”, he said, calling for the basic rights of all Malians to be preserved, “including those of the President and the senior government officials who remain in detention.”
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta began a second term in office in 2018, but in recent months has faced widespread protests over the Government’s handling of the economy, corruption, and progress in the counter-offensive against militant Islamists in the north and centre of the vast desert country.
Jihadists over-ran the country briefly in 2012, but were pushed back, leading to a peace agreement three years later between the Government and representatives of armed groups, that has failed to solidify.
The UN Spokesperson told journalists that reports were coming in of four ‘blue helmets’ from the mission being injured on Thursday morning, when the logistics convoy they were travelling in near the restive territory around Gao, was impacted by an explosion.
Mr. Dujarric said that MINUSMA “remains deeply committed to implementing its mandate in support of the Malian peace process and the Malian people. In this regard, the Mission stresses the need for full freedom of movement to allow the UN to carry out its mandate, to ensure the rotation of uniformed personnel, as well as medical evacuations in particular.”
Release detainees, urges UN rights expert
Alioune Tine, the UN’s independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali, also called on the coup leaders to release President Keïta and other detainees, and “to protect their physical integrity as well as members of their families.”
“I call upon the members of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) to immediately end this illegal detention,” he added.
“I also call upon all Malian authorities to scrupulously respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, to transfer power to civilians as soon as possible, restore the rule of law, and ensure the protection of property and persons.”
In a press release, he expressed “serious concerns” over reports that four people were killed, and 15 others were injured by the National Guard on the evening of 18 August. All responsible of such human rights violations should be held accountable by competent Malian judicial authorities”, said Mr. Tine.
It is significant that this coup started in the garrison town of Kati close to the capital Bamako, the Special Rapporteur said – the same place from which the March 2012 coup that overthrew Amadou Toumani Touré, was launched.
“This should prompt all national and international actors to reflect on how to strengthen State structures so we don’t repeat these crises, which result in systematic and continuous violations of human rights against a backdrop of conflicts both within communities and between communities.”