Mali’s opposition says more figures arrested after anti-government protests

The opposition in Mali says security forces have detained two of its senior figures after anti-government protests that saw at least three people killed in the streets of the capital, Bamako.

Security forces raided the headquarters of the opposition coalition M5-RFP and detained two senior figures, Choguel Kokala Maiga and Mountaga Tall, on Saturday, M5-RFP spokesman Nouhoum Togo said.

“While our activists were in a meeting, they came and attacked and ransacked our headquarters,” Togo said.

Another protest leader, Issa Kaou Djim, had been arrested on Friday.

​A protester holds a sign calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in Bamako, Mali, on July 10, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Protesters took to the streets on Friday after the opposition rejected offers from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita aimed at resolving a political standoff that began after disputed legislative elections in March.

Police fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse the protesters, who had occupied the buildings of the parliament and the national broadcaster.

Three protesters were killed and several others were seriously wounded, according to the United Nations (UN)’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, whose human rights division monitored the protests.

M5-RFP has blamed the president and security forces for the bloodshed and called on its supporters to remain mobilized, saying that the president must resign.

Late on Saturday, the president announced the dissolution of the constitutional court to calm the protests, saying that he remained open to dialog.

He said an investigation would be launched into the violence.

Keita said, however, that, “All tolerable limits were reached and surpassed” during the protests.

Meanwhile, Mali’s neighbors have expressed concern about the violence, which could further destabilize the West African country.

Mali is already fighting widespread militancy. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in the conflict, while many more have been forced to flee their homes.

The conflict has spilled over to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

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