The PUNCH had earlier reported that rebel soldiers took President Ibrahim Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse into custody on Tuesday afternoon and drove the pair to a military base on the outskirts of Bamako, which they had seized that morning.

Keita, whose government had been beset by months of protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, later announced early Wednesday that he had resigned to avoid “bloodshed”.

If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said of the day’s events.

“(I must) submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed,” the ousted 75-year-old president said in a television broadcast.

The coup’s leaders appeared on television hours later to pledge a political transition and new elections within a “reasonable time”.

Malian Air Force deputy Chief of Staff, Ismael Wague, said he and his fellow officers had “decided to take responsibility in front of the people and of history”.

Reacting on Wednesday, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, tweeted, “The Nigerian Government unequivocally condemns the coup d’état that took place in Mali yesterday and demands the immediate and unconditional restoration of constitutional order. We welcome the urgent activation of the ECOWAS Standby force.”

Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), alongside some ECOWAS leaders, had in July travelled to Bamako on a peace-keeping mission but the meeting with the protest leader, Imam Dicko, ended in a stalemate.

Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States also condemned the coup, pledging to close land and air borders to Mali and push for sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.

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