By Paul Lorgerie and David Lewis*
BAMAKO (Reuters) -Military officers in Mali detained the president, prime minister and defence minister of the interim government on Monday, deepening political chaos just months after a military coup ousted the previous president, multiple sources told Reuters.
President Bah Ndaw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and defence minister Souleymane Doucoure were all taken to a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako, hours after two members of the military lost their positions in a government reshuffle, the diplomatic and government sources said.
Their detentions followed the military ouster in August of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The development could exacerbate instability in the West African country where violent Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State control large areas of the desert north.
Political instability and military infighting have complicated efforts by Western powers and neighbouring countries to prop up to the impoverished nation, contributing to regional insecurity.
The United Nations’ mission in Mali called for the group’s “immediate and unconditional” release and said those who hold the leaders would have to answer for their actions.
A delegation from the top regional decision-making body ECOWAS will visit Bamako on Tuesday to help resolve the “attempted coup”, ECOWAS, the U.N., African Union, European Union and several European countries said in a joint statement.
“The international community rejects in advance any act imposed by coercion, including forced resignations,” the group said.
The U.S. State Department called in a statement for the “unconditional release of those currently being held”.
Ndaw and Ouane had been tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition back to civilian rule after the August takeover, but they appear to have moved against the military’s control over a number of key positions.