Colonel Assimi Goita, who led Mali’s coup less than 10 months ago, said transitional President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane had been stripped of their powers.
Col Goita also pledged elections in 2022.
The couple’s detention, which has been compared by French President Emmanuel Macron to a second coup, was the latest crisis to hit a state beset by poverty and a brutal insurgency.
Mr. Ndaw and Mr. Ouane headed an interim government that was installed in September under threat of regional sanctions, with the stated goal of restoring full civilian rule within 18 months.
But in a move that sparked widespread anger, they were detained on Monday by army officers who were unhappy with a government reshuffle.
Col Goita announced on public television that MM. Ndaw and Ouane had been dismissed from their posts for having sought to “sabotage” the transition, which “would take place normally”.
In Monday’s government reshuffle, the military retained the portfolios it held under the previous administration.
But two other putschists, the former Minister of Defense Sadio Camara and the former Minister of Security Col Modibo Koné, have been replaced.
Colonel Goita, who occupies the rank of vice-president of the transitional government, accused MM. Ndaw and Ouane for not having consulted him on the reshuffle.
“This kind of approach testifies to the clear will of the transitional president and the prime minister to seek to infringe the transitional charter,” he declared.
The transition charter, a document drawn up largely by the colonels, sets out the principles for Mali’s return to civilian rule.
Mr. Macron, whose country has engaged more than 5,000 soldiers in the fight against extremists in the Sahel, condemned the arrests of MM. Ndaw and Ouane as a “coup d’etat in an unacceptable coup”.
“We are ready in the coming hours to take targeted sanctions” against those responsible, he said after a European summit.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament in Paris that France had called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the crisis.
On Monday, the UN, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the EU and the United States issued a joint statement attacking the detention and demanding the release of both .
This request was taken up on Tuesday by Great Britain and Germany.
A senior Malian military official said that Mr. Ndaw and Mr. Ouane were taken to the Kati military camp near Bamako and “are doing well”.
“They spent the night in good conditions,” he said. “The president saw his doctor. “
Ecowas’ veteran mediator in the long-standing crisis in Mali, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, arrived in the capital Bamako in the middle of the afternoon.
Young military officers removed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from power on August 18 after weeks of protests against perceived government corruption and its handling of the insurgency.
Ecowas, a regional bloc of 15 nations, threatened to impose sanctions, prompting the junta to cede power to an interim government that pledged to reform the constitution.
But many doubt that the military-dominated government will have the will or the capacity to introduce reforms in such a short time.
“What we are experiencing today is the logical result of the loopholes at the start of the transition,” said sociologist Brema Ely Dicko, referring to the lack of civilian representation in the transitional government.
Monday’s reshuffle came amid signs of discontent among the public, who initially praised the military for toppling Mr. Keita.
The M5 opposition movement pushed for the dissolution of the interim government, demanding a “more legitimate” body.
On May 14, the government announced that it would appoint a new “broad-based” cabinet.
In the streets of Bamako, life seemed to resume its course on Tuesday despite the dismissal of MM. Ndaw and Ouane.
and many people interviewed by AFP said they were resigned to the events.
Tahirou Bah, an activist, attacked “coup settlers” who fought to the death for power while “80% of our country is under the control of terrorists, drug traffickers and bandits of all kinds “.
But Mr Bah said many people are just focusing on everyday life.
“It is survival for many Malians,” he told AFP.
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