The Malian soldiers who toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in a coup said Wednesday they planned to form a civilian transitional government to pave the way for new elections.
In a statement broadcast on state television, the mutineers identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People.
“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” the group’s spokesman Col. Maj. Ismael Wague said.
Keita announced his resignation and the dissolution of parliament late Tuesday after rebel soldiers detained him at gunpoint. He said he was stepping down to avoid “bloodshed.”
The putsch has been widely condemned by Mali’s regional and international allies, who fear it could plunge the West African country further into chaos. The former French colony had already been battling a jihadi insurgency and months of anti-government protests.
Flanked by soldiers, Col. Maj. Wague said the committee had acted to prevent the situation from getting worse, and called on civil society and political organizations to join their cause.
“Our country is sinking into chaos, anarchy and insecurity mostly due to the fault of the people who are in charge of its destiny,” he said, adding that borders were closed and a curfew would be imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Anti-government demonstrators took to the streets to celebrate the news of Keita’s ousting, while a number of Mali’s foreign partners voiced concern.