Mali crisis deepens as president, PM detained by mutinous troops
Mutinying soldiers in Mali have arrested embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, a dramatic escalation in the country’s months-long political crisis. The events began on Tuesday morning with soldiers firing into the air at the base in Kati, a garrison town some 15km (9 miles) from the capital, Bamako, while armoured…
Mutinying soldiers in Mali have arrested embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, a dramatic escalation in the country’s months-long political crisis.
The events began on Tuesday morning with soldiers firing into the air at the base in Kati, a garrison town some 15km (9 miles) from the capital, Bamako, while armoured tanks and military vehicles could be seen on its streets.
The soldiers later moved freely through the streets of Bamako and detained Keita and Cisse. Several senior government ministers and army officers were also reportedly under arrest.
In the capital, energised by reports of the mutiny, hundreds of opposition supporters poured into the square around the Independence Monument, the site of mass anti-Keita protests since June.
“We have come out today to call for the total resignation of President Keita because we heard there were shot fired by the military and we came out to help our soldier to get rid of the president,” a protester said.
“We are tired. The country is paralysed and we do not want this government,” added another..
As Malians waited for the mutinous soldiers to make a statement, the African Union demanded the immediate release of Keita and the other detained government officials.
“I forcefully condemn the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Prime Minister (Boubou Cisse) and other members of the Malian government, and call for their immediate release,” the chairman of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a tweet in French.
Opposition supporters gathered at Independence Square in Bamako to express support for the actions of the soldiers [Rey Byhre/Reuters]
The Elysee Palace said in a statement that French President Emmanuel Macron had spoken to Keita, along with the leaders of Niger, Ivory Coast and Senegal, and “condemned the attempted mutiny under way”. It did not say when that conversation occurred.
A French military source had earlier in the day told Reuters that discussions were taking place between Mali’s army command and the soldiers.
The developments follow a weeks-long political crisis that has seen opposition protesters taking to the streets to demand the departure of Keita, accusing him of allowing the country’s economy to collapse and mishandling a worsening security situation.
Calls to return to barracks
Before the detentions, the West African bloc ECOWAS had urged the soldiers “to return to their barracks without delay”.
“This mutiny comes at a time when, for several months now, ECOWAS has been taking initiatives and conducting mediation efforts with all the Malian parties,” the bloc said in a statement.
The French foreign ministry supported the appeal, saying in a statement it was closely following the developments in its former colony.
Earlier, the French embassy said: “Because of serious unrest this morning, August 18, in the city of Bamako, it is immediately recommended to remain at home.”
Similarly, the Norwegian embassy in Mali said in an alert to its citizens: “The embassy has been notified of a mutiny in the Armed Forces and troops are on their way to Bamako. Norwegians should exercise caution and preferably stay at home until the situation is clear.”
The US embassy, for its part, issued an alert advising its staff to “shelter-in-place”.
Keita’s opponents have led mass protests for more than two months, demanding his resignation amid growing dissatisfaction over Mali’s economic woes, perceived high-level corruption and the failure to contain a worsening security situation that has rendered vast swathes of the country ungovernable.
At least 14 protesters were killed during three days of clashes with security forces last month, according to the United Nations and human rights activists.
Regional powers are worried that any prolonged unrest from the protests could derail the battle against armed fighters in the wider Sahel region, many of whom are centred in Mali.
🚨Security Alert– Bamako, Mali🚨 The U.S. recommends all U.S. citizens avoid Kati and the Monument de l’Independance in Bamako. All passport, visa, and other consular services at the U.S. Embassy are cancelled for the rest of the day. More info: https://t.co/x5t4jVQBiG
— U.S. Embassy Mali (@USEmbassyMali) August 18, 2020
A mutiny in 2012 at the same base in Kati led to a military coup that toppled then-President Amadou Toumani Toure and contributed to the fall of northern Mali to fighters.
The next year, a civilian transitional government organised an election that was won by Keita, who got re-elected in 2018.
Underscoring the fear of Mali falling into further disarray over the current political crisis, ECOWAS stepped in last month to mediate and urged Keita to share power in a unity government.
The 75-year-old president has also proposed some concessions, but these moves have been roundly rejected by opposition leaders who remain steadfast in calling for Keita’s departure.
Britney Spears Shares ‘Like a Virgin’ Dance With Madonna at Her Wedding
Spears is seen getting close to Madonna for some “Like a Virgin” fun in a new video from her wedding reception. Madonna, with special guest singer Britney Spears, performs during her Sticky and Sweet Tour at Dodger Stadium on November 6, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/GI The footage from Britney Spears and Sam…
Spears is seen getting close to Madonna for some “Like a Virgin” fun in a new video from her wedding reception. Madonna, with special guest singer Britney Spears, performs during her Sticky and Sweet Tour at Dodger Stadium on November 6, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/GI The footage from Britney Spears and Sam Asghari’s wedding keeps coming. In a new clip shared on social media on Saturday (June 11), Spears gave fans one more glimpse at what it was like to celebrate with her famous friends, courtesy of another clip featuring Madonna. Spears is seen smooching and dancing with her husband, showing off her wedding gown and getting close to Madonna for a little “Like a Virgin” fun in a series of wedding reception videos posted this weekend. Explore See latest videos, charts and news See latest videos, charts and news Spears and Asghari tied the knot on Thursday (June 9), eight months after they announced their engagement. The pair met in 2016 on the set of the singer’s “Slumber Party” video. “LIVING IS GIVING … pssss don’t worry I had my first diamond thong underneath my jacket … hope I didn’t offend anyone,” the pop star captioned the latest post from her wedding celebration, where at some point in the night she’d also recreated her legendary kiss with Madonna from the 2003 MTV VMAs. In another cute video that had already circulated after the nuptials, Spears, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Selena Gomez, Drew Barrymore and Donatella Versace were seen singing along to another Madonna’s classic, “Vogue.” Check out the “Like a Virgin” moment, which happens about 23 seconds into the clip below. Get weekly rundowns straight to your inbox Subscribe
Military abortion options expected to be debated in annual defense bill process
The nationwide debate over abortion will be a key point of contention in the upcoming defense authorization bill process later this month, with a key Democratic lawmaker saying the issue needs to be part of the military readiness discussion.“If readiness is impacted by the fact that women are going to have to travel thousands of…
The nationwide debate over abortion will be a key point of contention in the upcoming defense authorization bill process later this month, with a key Democratic lawmaker saying the issue needs to be part of the military readiness discussion.“If readiness is impacted by the fact that women are going to have to travel thousands of miles when they are in need of an abortion service, then we need to look at that,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and chairwoman of the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, said this week.Committee staff said no specific language regarding military abortion services or access was included in the personnel section of the measure approved on Wednesday. Instead, the language focuses on things like the annual military pay raise and family support provisions.But committee members will be able to offer a wide range of amendments on the issue as part of the full committee mark up on June 22.RELATEDSpeier would not specify what proposals she or her colleagues will offer on the issue, but said that servicemembers should not be treated like “second-class citizens” when it comes to access to health care services.“We need to clarify for service members who are raped, subjected to incest or have situations in which their life is at risk: Where can they actually get an abortion?” she said.Last week, Speier and 81 other Democratic House members unveiled legislation that would allow military medical treatment facilities to provide abortion services to members of the military. Under current law, those procedures are banned except in cases of rape, incest and critical medical need.But supporters say they believe a change is needed in the wake of reports that the Supreme Court later this summer could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion across America.RELATEDAt least 26 states — including locations like Texas, with major military bases — have indicated they will outlaw the procedure within days of such a Supreme Court decision. Speier and other democratic lawmakers have said that would leave military members assigned to those locations without medical options if they find themselves in need of an abortion.Separately, numerous lawmakers have asked for defense officials to clarify rules regarding leave time and travel assistance if female troops seek an abortion across state lines. Army officials have said they are looking into the issue.Past committee debates over the availability of abortion services at overseas military bases have provided some contentious moments in the annual defense bill work, with conservative lawmakers firmly against any loosening of the current rules.Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.
Mo Donegal wins pulling away, leads 1-2 finish for Pletcher at Belmont Stakes
NEW YORK: Triple Crown veteran Todd Pletcher had simple advice Saturday for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. before the Belmont Stakes. “Be patient,” Pletcher said. “I think you have the best last quarter of any horse in the race.” Sometimes, less is Mo. Mo Donegal pulled away down the home stretch and held off filly Nest…
NEW YORK: Triple Crown veteran Todd Pletcher had simple advice Saturday for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. before the Belmont Stakes. “Be patient,” Pletcher said. “I think you have the best last quarter of any horse in the race.” Sometimes, less is Mo. Mo Donegal pulled away down the home stretch and held off filly Nest to win the Belmont Stakes, giving Pletcher a 1-2 finish and his sixth Triple Crown victory, including four at this track on the outskirts of New York City. “To be honest with you, we were a little confident going into the race today,” Donegal Racing CEO and co-owner Jerry Crawford said. “When he turned for home, I was like, forget about it. I know Todd thought he could get a strong last quarter mile, and he surely did.” Rich Strike, a stunning Kentucky Derby winner at 80-to-1 odds, was sixth. Mo Donegal rounded the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2 minutes, 28.28 seconds, three lengths ahead of Nest — ridden by Ortiz’s brother, Jose. Pletcher, who lives on Long Island, adds another Belmont title following wins with Rags to Riches in 2007, Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017. Mo Donegal beat an eight-horse field without a clear favorite. We the People, a monster in the mud, opened at 2 to 1 amid a rainy forecast but reached 7 to 2 by race time as showers held off. Mo Donegal entered the gate the betting favorite at 5 to 2. We the People led for much of the race, but Mo Donegal and Ortiz took charge coming out of the final turn. The 3-year-old colt paid $7.20, $3.80 and $3. Nest — who nearly became Pletcher’s second filly to win Belmont after Rags to Riches — paid $5.30 and $4.10. Skippylongstocking was third and returned $5.60 to show. We the People finished fourth. Rich Striker owner Rick Dawson and trainer Eric Reed held the Kentucky Derby winner out of the Preakness with an eye on Belmont, the first healthy horse to skip Pimlico after winning the Triple Crown’s first even since 1985. Reed said the team encouraged jockey Sonny Leon to try pushing Rich Strike from the outside, but the horse kept trying to get back inside — where he made a late charge past 19 horse to win at Churchill Downs. Rich Strike spent much of the race in last place and couldn’t recover. “I think we just made a tactical error,” Reed said. Just like Rich Strike, Mo Donegal was at the back of the pack at the Derby, but the colt didn’t have enough kick at Churchill Downs. He found it Saturday, winning the 154th running of the $1.5 million race. Mo Donegal made a winner out of co-owner Mike Repole, a local entrepreneur known around the track as “Mike from Queens.” Repole also co-owns Nest. “This is New York’s biggest race and to win it here, with my family and friends and 70 people here, this will be a big winner’s circle,” he said. It’s the fourth straight year the Triple Crown contests were won by three different horses, a first for the sport since 1926-29. The race marked a return to form for Belmont itself after the 2020 Stakes were closed to the public due to the pandemic and the 2021 event was limited to 11,238 spectators by virus restrictions. Capacity was capped again, this time at 50,000, because of congestion concerns stemming from the newly built arena next door for the NHL’s New York Islanders. Still, fans crammed into cars on the Long Island Rail Road and breathed life into the 117-year-old track with floral headwear, pastel suits and the unmistakable musk of booze and cigars. The reported attendance of 46,103 fell far short of the grounds record 120,139 set in 2004. Not much of a surprise, given the shaky weather forecast and the lack of a Triple Crown contender. The field was sparse, too. No horse ran all three Triple Crown legs this year, heightening concern that three races in five weeks may be too tight a schedule to keep the horses healthy. Preakness winner Early Voting was sidelined, likely to prepare for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 27. Epicenter, the runner-up at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, also skipped. In the $500,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies, Matareya romped to a 6 1/4-length victory. Favorite Echo Zulu scratched at the post on the advice of the track veterinarian. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Flavien Prat, Matareya ($2.60) ran the mile in 1:35.77, winning for the fifth time in eight career starts. Heavily favored Flightline got off a step slow, overcame an early traffic issue and cruised to a six-length victory in the $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Mile. The victory kept the 4-year-old Tapit colt undefeated in four career starts. This was the first one he did not win by double-digit lengths. Flightline ($2.90) was also ridden by Prat and trained by John Sadler.