Mali’s interim vice president claims to have seized power after transitional president, prime minister’s arrest

Mali’s interim vice president, Colonel Assimi Goita has said that he seized power after the transitional president and prime minister failed to consult him about the formation of a new government.

“This kind of step testifies to the clear desire of the transitional president and prime minister to seek to breach the transitional charter,” he said on Tuesday, describing the pair’s actions as a “demonstrable intent to sabotage the transition”.

Elections will be held next year as planned, he said.

President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were arrested and taken to a military base outside the capital on Monday, prompting swift condemnation from international powers, some of which called it an “attempted coup”.

The two men were in charge of a transitional government created after a military coup in August that toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. They were tasked with overseeing a return to democratic elections.

Goita, who led the August coup, orchestrated the arrests after two fellow coup leaders were dropped from their government posts in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday.

In a statement read by an aide on national television, Goita said elections next year to restore an elected government would go ahead as planned.

“The vice president of the transition saw himself obligated to act to preserve the transitional charter and defend the republic,” the statement said.