Malian army ‘arrests’ President, PM

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Malian soldiers upset with a government reshuffle took the President and Prime Minister to an army camp outside the capital on Monday, officials said, raising fears of a second coup within a year in the crisis-stricken country.

President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane lead an interim government that was installed after a putsch in August under the threat of regional sanctions.

Coup leaders and army officers wielded significant influence over the government, however, casting doubt on a pledge to hold elections by early next year.

Two senior officials, who declined to be named, told AFP that soldiers had taken Ndaw and Ouane to the Kati military camp on the outskirts of the capital, Bamako.

Their detention followed a sensitive government reshuffle on Monday afternoon, which was designed to respond to growing criticism of the interim government.

The military kept the strategic portfolios it controlled during the previous administration in the reshuffle.

But two coup leaders — ex-defence minister Sadio Camara and ex-security minister Colonel Modibo Kone — were replaced.

The reshuffle also came at a time of growing political challenges in the capital Bamako, and pressure to stick to the deadline for promised reforms.

Unconfirmed rumours of a potential coup were swirling around Bamako on Monday evening, but the city remained relatively calm.

Briefly reached by phone before the line cut, Prime Minister Ouane told AFP that soldiers “came to get him”.

The United Nations’ mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, called for calm in a tweet, and urged the immediate release of Ndaw and Ouane.

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