President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali was arrested on August 18 in a military mutiny.
“The United States strongly condemns the. . .mutiny in Mali as we would condemn any forcible seizure of power,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.
While it is reported that President Keita has been released to his home, it is feared that instability in Mali could empower extremists seeking to advance their Islamist agenda in Mali and in neighboring countries and lead to the displacement of millions of civilians. Indeed, after a military coup in Mali in 2012, Islamist rebels, some with ties to Al Qaeda, seized control of large areas of northern Mali, including the ancient cultural capital of Timbuktu.
In areas under the control of Islamic extremists, Malians were forced to follow a strict religious code, including forced marriages for women, until French forces helped the Malian military drive out the jihadists. But armed groups continue to threaten civilians in rural areas, and the violence has spread into the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso and Niger.
According to press reports, more than 10,000 West Africans have died and over a million have fled their homes since 2012.
U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahel Region Peter Pham made clear in a post on Twitter: The United States is not providing any training to the Malian armed forces at this time. He also tweeted that “the US opposes any extra-constitutional change of government, whether by those on the streets or by the defense and security forces.”
The United States joins the Economic Community of West African States and African Union, as well as other international partners, in denouncing the mutiny in Mali. “The freedom and safety of detained government officials and their families must be ensured,” stressed Secretary Pompeo.
The United States calls on all political and military actors to work towards a restoration of constitutional government. “We urge all stakeholders in Mali,” said Secretary Pompeo, “to engage in peaceful dialogue, to respect Malians’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to reject violence.”