The United Nations has joined global condemnation of the military takeover in Mali, which saw President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita forced to resign.
The UN’s Security Council echoed similar calls by regional bodies for the immediate release of all government officials and the restoration of constitutional order.
According to the soldiers, they acted to prevent the country falling into further chaos, saying they will set up a civilian government and hold new elections.
Keita won a second term in election in 2018, but since June has faced huge street protests over corruption, mismanagement of the economy and disputed legislative elections.
The African Union suspended Mali earlier, saying military coups were “something of the past which we cannot accept anymore”.
“Whenever you have a crisis and the military people have a coup and say ‘we are responding to the will of the people’, this way of responding is not acceptable at all,” said the AU’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted his condemnation, saying: “The U.S. strongly condemns the August 18 mutiny in Mali. We join our international partners including the Economic Community of West African States and the @_AfricanUnion in denouncing these actions.”
French President Emmanuel Macron urged a return to civilian rule saying “the fight against terrorist groups and the defence of democracy and the rule of law are inseparable”.