Three days after they were detained and stripped of their powers in what appeared to be the country’s second coup in nine months, Mali’s interim President and Prime Minister have been released, a military official said Thursday. Family members have also confirmed that President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane had been freed and have returned to their homes in the capital Bamako, though the conditions of their release remain unclear. Their release was one of the demands of the international community after their arrest sparked widespread diplomatic anger. The pair were detained on Monday by army officers who were apparently disgruntled by a government reshuffle.
The two were held at the Kati military camp around 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Bamako.
Ndaw and Ouane had been heading an interim government that was installed in September under the threat of regional sanctions, with the declared aim of restoring full civilian rule within 18 months.
Assimi Goita, who headed a junta which seized power less than 10 months ago, said Tuesday that the pair had been stripped of their powers.
On Wednesday, the interim leaders resigned in the presence of mediators visiting the military base.
Col. Assimi Goita Declares Himself President.
Meanwhile, Mali's former junta leader Col. Assimi Goïta has declared himself the country's transitional president.
He made the announcement after stripping interim President Bah Ndaw and PM Moctar Ouane of their powers.
The two ousted leaders were freed from military detention, where they had been held since Monday in what was seen as Mali's second coup in nine months.
The seizure of power came after a cabinet reshuffle which Col Goita complained he was not consulted about.
Two army officers involved in the previous coup lost their jobs in the reshuffle.
The situation in Mali today is said to be tense but calm.
Col. Goita said earlier that President Bah Ndaw and PM Moctar Ouane had failed in their duties and were seeking to sabotage the country's transition.
They were arrested hours after the reshuffle and resigned their positions while in detention on Wednesday.
Announcing their release on Thursday, Col. Goita's aide Baba Cissé said, "we have nothing against them".
He added that their whereabouts would be kept secret for their own security.
Col. Goita has said elections will still go ahead next year as planned.
The former leaders' release had been requested by the UN, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the EU, and the US.
They had been held at a military camp outside the capital, Bamako, since their arrest on Monday evening.
The latest events coincided with a visit by a delegation from ECOWAS. Last year, Ecowas threatened sanctions unless a caretaker government under civilian leadership took over from the military.
But France, the former colonial power, has threatened EU sanctions against the perpetrators, with President Emmanuel Macron describing it as a "coup within a coup."
Col Goita has asked people to go about their business as usual and promises the military is committed to the transitional deal.