Deposed Mali president evacuated for medical treatment

BAMAKO, MALI (AP) — Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Malian president ousted by a military coup in August, was evacuated late on Saturday to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for medical treatment, a diplomat said.

The 75-year-old’s health has been in question since he was hospitalised following his detention for 10 days by the military junta now in power.

He left Mali with his wife, Aminata Maiga Keita, an attache, two doctors and four security agents, said the diplomat with knowledge of the situation but refused to reveal his name because he was not permitted to speak to press on the matter.

The plane was dispatched by the UAE following a request from Malian authorities and Keita, so he can be treated at a military hospital in Abu Dhabi, the diplomat said.

Keita had been moved to his residence earlier this week after hospitalisation at a private clinic under the tight security of the junta.

Leaders of the junta had said they were open to whatever treatment he needed to get, even if in another country. The junta, which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, is now running Mali under the leadership of Colonel Assimi Goita.

Keita, who was first elected in 2013, had three years left in his term when mutinous soldiers detained him at his residence after firing shots outside the house. Hours later, he appeared in a midnight broadcast on state television, telling Malians he would resign immediately so no blood would be shed for him to stay in power.

Officials from the junta had said Keita was being held at the barracks only for his own protection. A protest movement against Keita’s presidency saw tens of thousands demonstrate in the streets in the months leading up to his overthrow.

A mediation delegation led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met with Keita while he was in military custody, and they later told journalists that Keita did not want to try to return to power.