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Mali’s Junta in Charge for Now

Soldiers who ousted Mali’s president and government in a coup promised on Wednesday to oversee elections within a “reasonable” time, as calls abroad grew for a swift resolution to an acute political crisis. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned and dissolved parliament on Tuesday after the mutineers detained him at gunpoint, further destabilising a country in the grip of a jihadist insurgency and plagued by recent civil unrest. Fearing Keita’s fall after nearly seven years in power could destabilise West Africa’s entire Sahel region, the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Mali from its institutions. The African Union chairman, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, demanded an immediate return to civilian government. As investors ditched shares in Mali-based gold mining companies, the mutineers had yet to identify their leader though the mood in the capital Bamoko appeared calm. A spokesman for the mutineers, calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, said they had acted to prevent further “chaos, anarchy and insecurity.”