Mali government says it has foiled counter-coup attempt

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s government, led by a two-time coup leader, announced Monday night that security forces had thwarted an attempted backlash it said was supported by a government anonymous westerner.

The announcement was the latest turmoil to unfold in Mali, where Colonel Assimi Goita led coups in 2020 and 2021 before becoming president of the West African nation.

The press release did not name the country it accused. However, relations with former colonizer France have deteriorated significantly under the Goita government, prompting the French army to begin withdrawing its forces that had spent nine years fighting Islamic extremists.

“These soldiers were supported by a Western state,” says the statement signed by government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga.

“The government of the Republic of Mali condemns with the utmost rigor this scandalous attack on state security, whose purpose is to hinder, or even annihilate, substantial efforts to secure our country and return to a constitutional order that guarantees peace and security. stability. ”, continued the statement.

The government press release, also read by Maiga on state television, gave few details but said security forces put down the coup last Wednesday night. He added that security had been tightened at checkpoints on highways leading out of the capital, Bamako, in an effort to catch accomplices.

Accusations of foreign interference come as the Goita regime becomes increasingly isolated. A day earlier, the government spokesman had announced that Mali would be leaving a five-nation regional security force known as the G5.

And last month he said he would permanently suspend French media outlets Radio France International and France 24, two of the most listened-to media outlets in the West African country. Malian authorities accused RFI and France 24 of publishing false reports of abuses by Malian soldiers.

Mali’s government has also accused the French military of violating the country’s airspace and denounced what it said was the unauthorized use of surveillance drones. Those accusations came after France released videos that appeared to show Russian mercenaries burying bodies near a military base in northern Mali, which had been handed over by the French to Malian forces.

France and other nations strongly condemned the August 2020 ouster of Mali’s democratically elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Nine months later, Goita launched a second coup when he fired the country’s interim civilian leaders and became president himself.

While the board initially agreed to an 18-month transition back to civilian rule, it failed to organize elections before a February deadline. Last month, the government said it would need two more years in power before it could organize a vote.

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Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.

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