Mali’s ex-Prime Minister Soumeylou Maiga dies in detention

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s former Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga died on Monday in the capital, Bamako, a close relative of his family announced.

Maiga, who served as prime minister of Mali from 2017 until 2019, was 67.

He remained an influential figure in security policy in Mali and the surrounding Sahel region and had been detained since August 2021 when the country was taken over by a military junta. His requests for medical evacuation had been refused by the military rulers of the West African country.

Maiga’s state of health deteriorated sharply a few days ago and approval for him to be moved from Mali for treatment was being considered but did not happen in time, according to a relative who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press on the situation. Maiga died in a clinic, he said.

The information has been confirmed by several other people close to him. Some heads of state in West Africa have confirmed the account as well.

Niger President Mohamed Bazoum reacted in a tweet, saying that the denial of overseas medical care for Maiga was similar to an assassination.

“I have just learned with dismay of the death of Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, former Prime Minister of Mali. His death in prison recalls that of President Modibo Keita in 1977. I thought that such assassinations belonged to another era. My condolences to his family and friends,” he said in the tweet.

The president of the political party Alliance for Solidarity in Mali – Convergence of Patriotic Forces ASMA-CFP, Maiga was a journalist by training. In the 1990s he was appointed the director of intelligence services by President Alpha Oumar Konaré. Critics accused him of being behind the creation of the ethnic Gandakoy militia that is accused of abuses against civilians of the Tuareg ethnic minority in northern Mali.

He went on to occupy several Cabinet posts such as Foreign Affairs minister in 2011 under President Amadou Toumani Touré and then Minister of Defense under President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita before serving as Prime Minister from 2017 to 2019. Maiga resigned from that post in after the killings of more than 160 Fulani civilians and protests against the state for continued insecurity.

Keita was overthrown in a coup by a military putsch in August 2020. Maiga was later arrested in Bamako in 2021 on allegations of fraud related to his time as minister of defense between 2013 and 2014.

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