The move was lead by military officers who not only detained the president and prime minister but also arrested the defence minister of the country's interim government following a controversial cabinet reshuffle.

The most recent photo of president Mali Bah Ndaw, while being sworn in during his Inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Amadou Keita
The most recent photo of president Mali Bah Ndaw, while being sworn in during his Inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Amadou Keita (Amadou Keita / Reuters)

Malian soldiers have rounded up the president and prime minister, hours after a government reshuffle left out two members of the junta that seized power in a coup nine months earlier in the West African nation, witnesses and officials reported.

An official at the prime ministers's office said on Monday President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane had both been taken to the Kati military camp near the capital.

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A senior member of the military junta, who declined to be named, confirmed the information.

The move was lead by military officers who not only detained the president and prime minister but also arrested the defence minister of the country's interim government on Monday following a controversial cabinet reshuffle, multiple diplomatic and government sources told Reuters.

The arrests bring further uncertainty to the West African country after a military coup in August overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

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Ndaw and Ouane had been tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition back to civilian rule after the takeover, but many inside government and the opposition worried about the military's hold over key positions.

The arrests occurred after the announcement of a change in government in which two members of a military junta that seized power in August were replaced.

Military officers will head the ministries of defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation in the new government, the national broadcaster said.

The war-torn West African country's interim government pledged on May 14 to appoint a new "broad-based" cabinet, amid growing anger over the prominence of military figures and the slowness of promised reforms.

In August, army officers ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was under pressure for his handling of Mali's jihadist insurgency.

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The military, threatened by international sanctions, later handed power to a caretaker government that pledged to reform the constitution and stage elections within 18 months.

Putschists and men with military links retained powerful roles in this interim government, however.

Coup leader Assimi Goita is currently serving as interim vice president, and the interim president, Bah Ndaw, is a retired army officer.

In the new government of 25 ministers announced on Monday, the military held on to the strategic portfolios they had during the previous administration.

However, two members of the military junta that deposed Keita -- ex-defence minister Sadio Camara and ex-security minister Colonel Modibo Kone -- have been replaced.

Mali is struggling to quell a brutal Islamist insurgency which first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the centre of the country as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The opposition M5 movement also called this month for the dissolution of the interim government, and demanded "a more law-abiding and more legitimate" body.

Source: AFP