Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has resigned, after being detained by soldiers on Tuesday.
In a televised address the ousted president said he was also dissolving the government and parliament, adding: “I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power.”
Keïta and PM Boubou Cissé were taken to a military camp near the capital Bamako, drawing international condemnation.
A spokesman for the soldiers called for “a civil political transition leading to credible general elections”.
Mr Keïta won a second term in elections in 2018, but there has been anger over corruption, the mismanagement of the economy and a dispute over legislative elections. It has prompted several large protests in recent months.
There has also been anger among troops about pay and over a continuing conflict with jihadists.
Wearing a surgical mask amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Keïta resigned in a brief address on state television.
“If today, certain elements of our armed forces want this to end through their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he asked.
“I hold no hatred towards anyone, my love of my country does not allow me to,” he added. “May God save us.”
It remains unclear who began the mutiny, how many soldiers took part or who will now take charge.
It appears to have started when mutinying soldiers took control of the Kati camp, where the president and PM were later taken.
BBC Afrique reports that it seems to have been led by Col Malick Diaw – deputy head of the Kati camp – and another commander, Gen Sadio Camara.
The United Nations and African Union both called for the release of those held by the soldiers.
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), a regional body, also said its 15 member states had agreed to close their borders with Mali, suspend all financial flows to the country, and eject Mali from all Ecowas decision-making bodies. In recent months, Ecowas has been trying to mediate between Mr Keïta’s government and opposition groups.
The UN Security Council is to meet on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in Mali.
Mali’s former colonial ruler, France, was also quick to condemn the president’s detention, and Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian urged the soldiers to return to barracks. Mali is a key base for French troops fighting Islamist insurgents across the Sahel region.
A member of Mali’s opposition M5 movement, which has held protests against Mr Keïta for the past few weeks, welcomed his resignation.
Prof Ramata Sissoko Cisse told the BBC World Service: “I think it’s a relief for the Malian people and for all the citizens of Mali to finally hear from the president that because of the lack of support of the Malian people he finally accepts to resign, to give back power to the people.”
M5 is led by the conservative Imam, Mahmoud Dicko, who has called for reforms after rejecting concessions from Mr Keïta.
Source: @ www.bbc.com