Mali’s military government opens case against high-profile figures

Flie photo of former Malian prime minister Boubou Cissé.
Flie photo of former Malian prime minister Boubou Cissé. MARCO LONGARI / AFP

The military government that took power in Mali last August has opened an investigation into alleged violations of state security, according to the Bamako prosecutor. The probe refers directly to seven prominent figures in Malian society who were arrested on 21 December on suspicion of fomenting a coup d’etat.


Included in the list are former Malian Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, popular radio columnist Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, aka Ras Bath, Vital Robert Diop, general manager of the betting company PMU-Mali, Aguibou Macky Tall, president of Agefau, a telecommunications agency and half-brother of Boubou Cissé, as well as Souleymane Kansaye and Mamadou Koné, who both work for the treasury.

Cissé, who was in office during the 18 August coup d’etat, is the only one who is not in custody, because they have been unable to find him.

“Many people see this as soldiers in power who are trying to put pressure on people,” says Africa Calling podcast Bamako correspondent Issa Togola.

The prosecutor says that all these personalities had contacts and suspicious movements inside the country for acts of possible sabotage, but has not given any detail as to how this transpired.

The men were arrested outside any legal framework, and were taken to the Bamako barracks after their arrest, even though they are not in the military.

No link?

Malians are struggling to see any sort of link between the seven men.

“They have very different political views and they don’t have any projects in common,” says Togola.

He adds that while military officers had been involved in security breaches in Mali in the past, no soldier has been detained over these charges.

“We cannot see any soldier arrested among those people, so it is very hard to see how they can be endangering the state security,” he says.

The only plausible link is that some are working in the media, according to Togola.

“Ras Bath is an influential columnist here in this country, so people may think that it’s a way to shut him down, so he can’t talk or say bad things about those in power, but we don’t have a clear vision of the reason for his arrest now,” he says.

Journalists and human rights defenders have come out against the military government.

“Ras Bath has been arrested without any legal process, without any arrest warrant—journalists see this as a violation of the freedom of the press, and human rights defenders consider this to be illegal,” he says.

In addition to the seven above, Sékou Touré, the secretary general of the presidency, was also arrested. However, his case will be handled by the Malian Supreme Court because his is a minister and a lawyer, according to the prosecutor’s statement.

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