Mali junta urges end to 'vandalism' and return to normality

Demonstrators notably torched the offices of the attorney of former justice minister Kassim Tapo.

Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff Ismael Wague (front row 2nd L) speaks during a press conference in Kati, Mali on 19 August 2020. Coup leaders in Mali faced a wave of international pressure a day after they forced out Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita weakened by months of mass protests. Picture: AFP

BAMAKO - Mali's new military junta on Wednesday urged citizens to return to normal life and warned against acts of "vandalism" after rebel officers took power.

"The committee calls on the people to... resume their activities in a healthy manner," said Ismael Wague, the spokesman for the self-described National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP).

Civil servants were "invited" to return to work on Thursday, he said.

He added that no people had died during Tuesday's coup, despite unconfirmed reports of several deaths.

"The committee stresses that, during its operations, there were no deaths, contrary to certain allegations that talk of four dead and 10 injured," Wague said, repeating: "Zero deaths and zero injured."

Wague also called for "an immediate halt to acts of vandalism and destruction of public buildings" and warned of punishment for offenders.

Demonstrators notably torched the offices of the attorney of former justice minister Kassim Tapo.

"The committee will take every measure in the context of strict respect for military discipline regarding anyone in uniform discovered extorting" people, he added.

Rebel officers staged a mutiny at a major base near the capital Bamako on Tuesday and then headed into the city, where they detained President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse.

Hours later, Keita - struggling after months-long protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency - announced his resignation, saying he sought to avoid bloodshed.

The African Union, the European Union and the United States have led condemnation of Keita's overthrow and demanded that the detained leaders be freed.

Wague made no reference to Keita or other government members in his brief media appearance in Bamako.

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