BAMAKO — A blogger from northern Mali who proclaimed himself president in a satirical social media post was arrested and held for 24 hours before being released on Wednesday.
“I have decided to officially announce myself president of the civil transition from tomorrow February 28,” said Tandina Elhadj Beyt’allah, wearing a scarf in Malian colors in a video posted online on Sunday.
He ruminated on the seriousness of the situation facing Mali as well as the “lack of vision of our authorities”.
At the end of the two-minute clip, he pointed out that it was “just a joke”, laughing as he said “don’t send the police after me”.
That’s exactly what they did.
Beyt’allah, who enjoys a prolific online following, was arrested on Tuesday, and a police officer in Timbuktu said he was being held pending investigations.
The blogger said on his Facebook page on Wednesday that he had been released.
Another Timbuktu resident was arrested after saying online that he was ready to serve as Beyt’allah’s prime minister, the officer added.
Rebel officers carried out a coup in August 2020 that toppled Mali’s elected leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was facing angry protests over the failure to stem jihadist attacks.
Junta in power
The following May, the junta ousted a civilian-led government appointed to oversee a transition period and appointed strongman Colonel Assimi Goita as interim president.
The West African bloc ECOWAS then imposed a trade embargo and border closure with Mali on January 9, in a move supported by France, the United States and the European Union.
The sanctions followed a proposal by the junta to stay in power for up to five years before holding elections, despite an earlier pledge to hold a vote by the end of February 2022.
Beyt’allah was apparently imitating Ainea Ibrahim Camara, a little-known figure who announced himself as the leader of a civilian transition.
Authorities have also opened an investigation into Camara.
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