Mali's embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced the dissolution of the constitutional court late Saturday in an attempt to calm the deadly civil unrest gripping the vulnerable African country, as more opposition leaders were arrested.
The court has been at the centre of controversy in Mali after it overturned provisional results for a parliamentary poll earlier this year, triggering protests in several cities that on Friday descended into violence.
Keita said he had repealed the licences of all remaining members of the constitutional court so that new judges could be appointed from next week.
"The reformed court can quickly help us find solutions to the disputes arising from the legislative elections," he said in an evening television address.
Following a long-delayed parliamentary poll in March – which Keita's party won – the court overturned the provisional results for about 30 seats, a move that saw several members of Keita's party elected and is widely viewed as having ignited the latest crisis.
Opposition leaders arrested as protests continue
Clashes raged again in the capital Bamako on Saturday as demonstrators – angered by a long-running jihadist conflict, economic woes and perceived government corruption – demanded Keitas resignation.
Malis opposition coalition said security forces detained two leaders of anti-government protests and raided its headquarters on Saturday.
The opposition coalition M5-RFP said Choguel Kokala Maiga and Mountaga Tall, two senior figures in the movement, were detained along with other activists on Saturday. Another protest leader, Issa Kaou Djim, was arrested Friday.
In addition, security forces "came and attacked and ransacked our headquarters", M5-RFP spokesman Nouhoum Togo said.
The arrests represent a new low in relations between the opposition and the authorities, who did not crack down after two large-scale, peaceful protests against the president in June.
Authorities say four people have died in the unrest, while six opposition figures have been detained in two days as the government cracks down on an alliance known as the June 5 Movement.
'Open to dialogue'
During a visit to a Bamako hospital Saturday, Prime Minister Boubou Cissé called for calm. "The president and I remain open to dialogue," Cissé said, adding that he would quickly form a government ready to deal with the country's problems.
But almost as he spoke, a June 5 Movement spokesman told reporters that gendarmes had arrested Maiga and Tall.
Later Saturday, security forces turned up at the house of another opposition leader, Sy Kadiatou Sow, but were unable to find him, said a member of his family who did not want to be named.
Fears of influential imam's arrest
Led by influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, the movement is channelling deep-seated frustrations in the West African country.
Friday's protest was the third such demonstration in less than two months, significantly escalating pressure on the president.
As flaming roadblocks appeared around Bamako on Saturday, the atmosphere was electric around the mosque where Dicko preRead More – Source