U.S. condemns detention of civilian leaders in Mali


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States on Wednesday strongly condemned the detention of civilian leaders of Mali’s transition government and is suspending security assistance to the country’s security and defense forces.

The State Department warned that it would also consider targeted measures against political and military leaders who impede the country’s civilian transition to democratic governance.

“We are working closely with the local transition monitoring committee and other international actors to seek the immediate and unconditional release of those detained and resumption of the civilian-led transition,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Mali’s interim president and prime minister resigned on Wednesday, two days after they were arrested by the military, an aide to the vice president said, deepening a political crisis and potentially setting up a standoff with international powers.

President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were taken to a military base outside the capital on Monday after a cabinet reshuffle in which two officers lost their posts.

The intervention led by Vice President Assimi Goita has jeopardised Mali’s transition back to democracy after a coup in August overthrew then-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

It has provoked international condemnation and raised fears that a political crisis in Bamako could affect regional security.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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