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US condemns Mali ‘mutiny’, calls for ‘freedom’ of detained leaders

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday condemned what he called a “mutiny” in Mali and called for the freedom of the West African country’s detained leaders to be ensured.

On Tuesday, rebel military leaders forced Malian President Boubacar Keita from office. Keita later said he had resigned to avoid bloodshed.

Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were taken into custody. It was not clear if they were still being held on Wednesday.

“The United States strongly condemns the August 18 mutiny in Mali as we would condemn any forcible seizure of power,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“The freedom and safety of detained government officials and their families must be ensured.”

Pompeo said the US “calls on all political and military actors to work towards a restoration of constitutional government,” engage in dialogue and “reject violence.”

The US calls echo similar statement from the European Union and the African Union.

Keita has been the target of months of protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency in Mali.

Crowds cheered the rebels as they arrived in the capital Bamako on Tuesday. There were no reports of casualties during the military takeover.

But the coup leaders announced a curfew and border closures, in effect sealing off the country.

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