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Mali president resigns after being arrested in military coup

 Malians cheer as Mali military enters the streets of Bamako, Mali, Tuesday. Photo by Moussa Kalapo/EPA-EFE
 Malians cheer as Mali military enters the streets of Bamako, Mali, Tuesday. Photo by Moussa Kalapo/EPA-EFE

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned late Tuesday after he and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were arrested by the military in a coup that followed months of protests.

In a state-televised address, Keita said the national assembly and the government are dissolved with his resignation.

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"I don't want any blood to shed to keep me in my position," he said.

Keita's resignation came hours after the mutineers captured an army base near Bamako from where they marched into the capital to cheering crowds calling for Keita to resign before storming the president's residence and arresting the pair, the BBC reported.

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Earlier Tuesday, the government of Mail said in a statement signed by Cisse that they were following the situation at the military camp, urging the mutineers to not do anything to jeopardize or harm the country.

"The government calls for reason and a patriotic sense and asks for the arms to be silenced," the statement read. "There is no problem the solution of which cannot be found in dialogue."

The coup has prompted international concern with the African Union condemning the arrests of Keita and Cisse and calling for their immediate release.

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"I strongly condemn any attempt at anti-constitutional change and call on the mutineers to cease all use of violence and respect for republican institutions," Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, said in a statement, while calling on the international community, including the United Nations, to "combine their efforts to oppose any use of force to end the political crisis in Africa."

The Economic Community of West African States also condemned the overthrow of the country in a statement while denying "any form of legitimacy to the putschists and demands the restoration of constitutional order."

The organization, which has for months pursued to mediate between the government and protesters, barred Mali from all of its decision-making bodies.

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It also stopped all air traffic and economic, commercial and financial transactions between Mali and ECOWAS's 15 member states while calling for "the immediate implementation of a set of sanctions" against all responsible for the coup.

Its members also closed their borders with Mail, it said.

The U.N. Security Council said it will meet Wednesday to discuss the matter, it said via Twitter.

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The coup followed months of unrest and protests in the country calling for Keita to resign due to insecurity, a faltering economy, allegations of corruption and that he rigged legislative elections held in the spring.

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The United Nations said in a late July report that at least 11 protesters were killed and 150 others were injured in Bamako last month when security forces used live ammunition on demonstrators who besieged parliament, the national broadcaster's office and the offices of the ruling party.

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