- Assimi Goita said he was the leader of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People that had seized power
- Several military men are reported to have confirmed Goita was the true force behind the coup
- Up until now, he was the head of Mali's special forces
- Fellow coup leaders called on the public to return to normal life
- They further warned against acts of vandalism and threatened to punish any soldier found guilty of extortion
Army colonel Assimi Goita has announced himself as Mali's new military leader following the Tuesday, August 18, coup that was condemned by the international community.
After meeting top civil servants on Wednesday, August 19, Goita said he was the leader of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People that had seized power.
His entourage told journalists Goita had until now headed Mali's special forces based in the centre of the West African country which has been torn by jihadist and sectarian violence.
"Let me introduce myself. I am Colonel Assimi Goita, chairman of the National Committee for the salvation of the People," he said.
"Mali is in a situation of socio-political crisis. There is no more room for mistakes," added Goita, surrounded by armed military men.
Several military men told AFP on condition of anonymity that Goita who is in his forties was the true force behind the coup.
Fellow coup leaders meanwhile called on the public to return to normal life, warned against acts of vandalism and threatened to punish any soldier found guilty of extortion.
The opposition coalition M5-RFP said in a statement it took note of the commitment the junta had made to open a civilian political transition and would work with it on developing a roadmap.
"We will organise the biggest patriotic rally on Friday, August 21, in Bamako and nationwide in order to celebrate the Malian people's victory," the coalition's Choguel Maiga said.
Military officers who helped to overthrow President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in a coup d'etat that drew international condemnation pledged to restore stability.
They also promised to oversee a transition to elections within a reasonable period.
Colonel-Major Ismael Wague, a spokesman for the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, said they acted to prevent Mali from falling further into chaos.
"The social and political tension has undermined the proper functioning of the country for quite a while," said Wague, flanked by soldiers.
"Real democracy doesn't go with complacency, nor weakness of the state authority, which must guarantee freedom and security of the people," he added.
Wague further said all international agreements will still be respected and international forces, including the UN mission in Mali and G5 Sahel, will remain in place for the restoration of stability.
The coup leaders also remain committed to the Algiers process, a 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and armed groups in the north of the country, Wague said.
Borders were closed and a curfew went into effect from 9pm to 5am.
The dramatic events in one of Africa's most volatile countries began when rebel officers mutinied at a base near Bamako and headed into the city, where they detained Keita and Cisse.
Keita then resigned and dissolved parliament hours after the coup leaders detained him at gunpoint saying he had been given no other choice but to quit, and sought to avoid bloodshed.
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