Mali announced on Wednesday that it had opened an investigation into an attempted assassination of army strongman Assimi Goita, the figure behind two coups d’état in less than a year in one of the most troubled countries in Africa.
“An ill-intentioned individual attempted to physically injure” Goita after prayers for Eid al-Adha at the Grand Mosque of Bamako, prosecutor Bourama Kariba Konaté said in a statement.
The act “falls under the categories of endangering state security and attempted murder,” he said.
An investigation was opened “to shed light on this event”.
Goita was taken away after a man armed with a knife threw himself at him, an AFP journalist found at the scene.
The chief later appeared on state television to say he was “very well” and downplayed the importance of the assault.
“It’s part of being a leader, there are always disgruntled people,” he said. “There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability. “
A suspect who was taken from the mosque remained in custody on Wednesday while police questioned witnesses, Commissioner Sadio Tomoda told AFP.
# photo1 His identity has not been revealed, but Tomoda said on Tuesday evening that he was a teacher, without giving details.
Bamako was calm after the attack, according to AFP journalists. Wednesday was a public holiday to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid.
– Political unrest –
The attack ended months of political turmoil in a country that has rarely seen stability since gaining independence from France in 1960.
Goita, a special forces colonel in his thirties, led a coup last August that toppled President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of anti-corruption protests and a bloody jihadist insurgency.
The junta, in the face of international condemnation, handed power over to a civilian-led transitional government that promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022.
But at the end of May, Goita, who was vice president under the transitional government, ousted president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane, saying they had sought to “sabotage” the handover.
In June, with Goita as interim president, a new government was unveiled, with military figures in key roles.
# photo2While the African Union and the West African regional bloc of ECOWAS lobbied, Goita pledged that the government “will respect all of its commitments” and pledged to organize “credible, fair and transparent elections”.
Mali’s neighbors and allies view the crisis with concern, fearing the impact on efforts to stem a jihadist insurgency unfolding in the Sahel.
The bloody campaign erupted in northern Mali in 2012 and has since spread to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.
France, pillar of the anti-jihadist operation, has been particularly critical of the military takeover in Mali.
He suspended military cooperation after the second coup, then announced a major withdrawal from his 5,100-man Barkhane mission.
© 2021 AFP