Mali’s military junta said they have released ousted President Ibrahim Keita who had been detained since the coup last Tuesday.
The junta, which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), has been controlling Mali since August 18 when they arrested Mr Keita and forced. He was then detained.
The military takeover followed months of unrest and protests by the opposition against what they called Mr Keita’s inept rule and failure to contain insurgency in the country.
On Thursday, the military leaders in a Facebook post said they were “informing public and international opinion that former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has been released and is currently in his residence.”
He “was freed this morning, (and) he has returned to his home”, a spokesman for the junta, Djibrilla Maiga, told AFP, without giving further details.
According to AFP, Mr Keita’s whereabouts could not immediately be confirmed. His residence in Bamako appeared deserted at midday with no sign of the usual security presence outside, a local resident told AFP.
But his release followed demands by Mali’s international partners, especially the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has held several unsuccessful mediation talks with the junta.
Last weekend, the regional bloc also sent a delegation led by Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan to Mali’s capital Bamako to negotiate with coup leaders over the release of Mr Keita and the return to civilian rule.
They have promised to oversee a transition to elections within a “reasonable” amount of time.
In another development, on Thursday, France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said the coup would not stop French military operations against insurgents, following the European Union and United States’ suspension of their military cooperation in Mali.
It also called for a swift transition of power.