Jonathan secures release of detained Mali's President Ndaw, Ouane

Jonathan, Ndaw and Ouane

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Leaders of Mali’s military have released interim president Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane from detention following intervention from former President Goodluck Jonathan who is the mediator of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Mali.

The former President had travelled to Bamako on Tuesday to meet with the military leaders and other stakeholders after the sudden turn of events in the transition process that led to the detention of the two leaders by the military under the control of Vice President Colonel Assimi Goita.

The mediator and his team had on Wednesday obtained the commitment of the military leaders to release Ndaw and Ouane, after visiting them at Kati Barracks, near Bamako where they were being held, to ascertain their health condition.

Before visiting the President and Prime Minister in detention Jonathan had met with Colonel Goita where he demanded their unconditional release and urged the authorities to maintain peace and stability which, according to him, are key to the conduct of the transitional process.

The release of President Ndaw and Prime Minister Ouane early Thursday morning came three days after they were detained and stripped of their powers, nine months after they were appointed to lead the transition government.

They had been heading the interim government under the transition charter with the aim of restoring full civilian rule within 18 months.

“The interim president and prime minister were released overnight around 1.30am. We were true to our word,” an official of the transition government told newsmen while speaking on condition of anonymity. Family members confirmed that the two men had returned to their homes in the capital Bamako.

The development came a day after military officials said the country’s transitional president and prime minister had resigned while in detention.

The mediator who left Mali on Thursday is billed to present a report to the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government for further decisions to be taken on the new situation in Mali.

He was accompanied on the mission by Ghana’s foreign minister and chair of ECOWAS Council of Ministers Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Francis Benhazin. Others were El Ghassim Wane, United Nations Special Representative in Mali and Mr. Fulgence Zeneth, head of African Union Mission for Mali and the Sahel.