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African Union Chairman Calls for Leaders of Military-Led Coup to Release Mali President

Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff Ismael Wague, front row 2nd left, speaks during a press conference in Kati, Mali, Aug. 19, 2020.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking as chairman of the African Union, is condemning the unconstitutional change of government in Mali.

In a statement Wednesday, Ramaphosa called for mutinous soldiers in the West African nation to release Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top government officials.

During his resignation speech, Keita, who is being held in the military camp near the capital, Bamako, announced the dissolution of the National Assembly and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse's government.

The soldiers, who call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, were still holding Keita on Wednesday.

So far, the group has only said they would work towards elections.

Some people celebrated in the streets of Bamako following the soldiers’ take over and Keita’s forced removal from office.

Meantime, Ramaphosa is calling on the international community to help Malians return to civilian and democratic rule.

The AU Commission has suspended Mali from the pan-African bloc until the restoration of constitutional order and the release of the government leaders.