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UN calls for immediate release of Mali's civilian leaders

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday strongly condemned the arrest of Mali’s transitional president, prime minister and other officials by the military and called for their immediate and unconditional release and the restoration of the civilian-led transition.

The council urged Malian defense and security force “elements” that detained the civilian leaders “to return to their barracks without delay.”

The U.N.’s most powerful body called for the immediate resumption of Mali’s civilian-led transition “leading to elections and constitutional order within the established 18-month timeline.”

The leader of Mali’s 2020 coup, Col. Assimi Goita, regained control of the West African country by deposing the president and prime minister of the transitional government in an unprecedented move. While in detention, the president dismissed the prime minister and then resigned.

The statement approved by all 15 council members after closed consultations “affirmed that imposing a change of transitional leadership by force, including through forced resignations, is unacceptable.”

The Security Council said it “noted with concern the risk of negative impact of these developments on ongoing efforts to counter terrorism, implement the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, and stabilize the center of Mali.”

Members called on all Malian parties “to prioritize building trust, engaging in dialogue and to be willing to compromise to achieve these objectives.”

The Security Council reiterated its strong support for mediation efforts by the African Union and West African regional group ECOWAS and called on all Malian parties “to continue cooperating fully with the efforts of all partners to ensure the resumption of the civilian-led transition.”

The Associated Press