In Mali, demonstrators target symbolic places of power
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On Tuesday August 18, Malian soldiers seized power in Bamako, forcing president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to resign. The streets were full of celebrating Malians, but on the sidelines of the protests, demonstrators attacked and looted private residences and public buildings that represented the former government’s seats of power.
Protesters in Mali have been in the streets for months, contesting Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s (IBK) presidency. On the night of Tuesday August 18, IBK was overthrown in a military coup. That evening, the former president announced his resignation and dissolved the current government and Parliament. His address was televised from Kati military camp where he has been held since soldiers arrested him on Tuesday evening.
Enthusiastic demonstrators stormed several places of importance to the former Malian government. In some cases, these spots were also looted, as shown by several amateur images shared on social media Tuesday night.
From Karim Keita's house: "I saw surreal scenes. People came in minibuses and tricycles in order to loot as much as possible."
One of the most viral videos was filmed at a house owned by Karim Keïta, son of desposed president IBK. The home is located in Bamako’s Sebenikoro district. The video shows dozens of people jumping into the pool. Others move about the garden, holding objects that were likely looted from the house. In the video, a man can be heard congratulating himself on this "wave of change".
Oumar Sankare is interning as a journalist for a Malian media outlet. He witnessed the chaos in the neighbourhood:
Karim Keïta's house is not far from [former] president IBK’s home. The police did not let demonstrators attack the latter, but they did not maintain security for Karim Keïta's house, which explains why so many demonstrators were able to gain entry.
Inside, the atmosphere was cheerful. People were very happy. There were children, teenagers, men, and women. I heard people say, ‘These thieves stole all the nation's money. We're going to take what is owed to everyone.’
The house was looted and completely destroyed: furniture, television, etc. I saw surreal scenes. People brought in minibuses and tricycles in order to take whatever they could. Some carried safes, others shared banknotes. I think there were at least 300 people.
People also stole bottles of champagne, and the whole house smelled like alcohol.
People also stole many bags of cement. Outside on the streets, there was cement all over for almost 400 metres.
Photo of one of the bags of cement looted from Karim Keita's according to our Observer.
It breaks my heart to see the population act like this – the looting. But we can't blame them. Extreme poverty drives people to do anything. I hope that the next wave of politicians will learn from this situation and work for everyone’s good.
BAMAKO DANS LA MAISON DE KARIM KEITA LE FILS D'IBKPubliée par Maman Rigogo original sur Mardi 18 août 2020
In another video, filmed from a balcony, protestors attack Karim Keita’s same home in the Sebenikoro neighbourhood.
Places of power attacked—even looted
During the daytime on August 18, protesters targeted other places with direct ties to positions of power in Mali.
In the Bamako-Coura district, protesters vandalised and set fire to the law firm run by Minister of Justice Kassoum Tapo. Journalist and blogger Malick Konate published photos of the building in flames.
According to several witnesses, demonstrators also ransacked the minister's home in the Titibougou district.
Kassoum Tapo was recently appointed as Minister of Justice. He is a target of the opposition movement, “Mouvement du 5 Juin-Rassemblement des forces patriotiques du Mali” [Movement of June 5 - Rally of the Patriotic Forces of Mali] (M5-RFP). Since June, this group has led protests demanding the president’s resignation. Since Kassoum Tapo became Minister of Justice at the end of July, several activists have been arrested, tried and condemned under abusive conditions, according to M5-RFP.
Another amateur video shows the chaotic scene in front of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maïga’s home. Mutinous soldiers arrested the prime minister on Tuesday. Documents are scattered everywhere in front of his residence. The video shows an individual carrying off an air conditioner that was likely stolen.
This morning, Wednesday August 19, calm returned to the streets of Bamako, according to several of our Observers and journalists in the area.
The military officials who assumed power in Mali announced the establishment of a “National Committee for the Salvation of the People". They confirmed that they intend to have a civilian-led political transition that will lead to general elections within a “reasonable timeframe".
The Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the overthrow of president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and his government. In a statement, ECOWAS announced the closure of all air and land borders between Mali and member states. The community also suspended all financial exchanges between Mali and its 15 member states. Mali is also excluded from participating in ECOWAS decision-making committees.
Place de l’indépendance du Mali : il est 7h45 GMT, les gens vaquent à leurs occupations quotidiennes au lendemain du coup d’état militaire.KONATE Malick (@konate90) August 19, 2020
Bamako, le 19 août 2020#CriseSocioPolitique #Mali pic.twitter.com/xOVvJ1q35U
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