Knife attack on Mali interim President

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021 00:00 |
Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). Photo/AFP

Bamako, Tuesday

Mali’s interim President Assimi Goita has been targeted in an attempted stabbing attack after Eid al-Adha prayers at the Grand Mosque in the capital, Bamako, his office said.

“The attacker was immediately overpowered by security. Investigations are ongoing,” the presidency said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

Goita was whisked away, according to an AFP news agency journalist, who also said he saw blood at the scene, though it was not clear who had been wounded.

An official at the presidency later told AFP that Goita was “safe and sound”. The president arrived at the military camp of Kati, outside Bamako, “where security has been reinforced”, the official said.

Two military sources also told Reuters news agency that Goita was unharmed following the attack.

The attack happened as an imam was directing worshippers outside the mosque for a ritual animal sacrifice.

Religious Affairs Minister Mamadou Kone told AFP that a man had “tried to kill the president with a knife” but was apprehended.

Latus Toure, the director of the Great Mosque, said an attacker had lunged for the president but wounded someone else.

Goita, 37, was sworn into office last month despite facing a diplomatic backlash over his second power grab in nine months.

In August 2020, Colonel Goita had led a military coup that removed embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after months of anti-government protests over perceived corruption and the failure to tackle a deteriorating security crisis that first emerged in 2012.

In late May, Goita, who was serving as Mali’s vice president in a transitional government tasked with leading the country back to civilian rule in February 2022, seized power again after accusing interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane of failing to consult him about a cabinet reshuffle.

Threatened by international sanctions after launching the August coup, Goita’s military council handed power to the caretaker government headed by President Ndaw and Prime Minister Ouane.

The nominally civilian government was meant to reform the constitution and hold elections within 18 months.

But Goita himself became the interim vice president, and the military retained significant clout.  - AFP

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