Missing Mali opposition leader kidnapped

Leading Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse went missing in the war-torn centre of the country on in the afternoon of March 25, 2020, his party said, with no-one is able to contact him since. In a statement released on Wednesday, Cisse's Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) party said the politician and his team had gone missing after campaigning near the town of Niafunke, in central Mali.
Leading Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse went missing in the war-torn centre of the country on in the afternoon of March 25, 2020, his party said, with no-one is able to contact him since. In a statement released on Wednesday, Cisse's Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) party said the politician and his team had gone missing after campaigning near the town of Niafunke, in central Mali.
Image: AFP/ MICHELE CATTANI

Leading Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse has been kidnapped, the government said Thursday, in a first for a politician of his rank in the war-torn West African state.

A former finance minister and presidential contender, Cisse went missing in jihadist-ridden central Mali on Wednesday afternoon in circumstances that remain unclear.

His Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) party released a statement later on Wednesday saying Cisse and his team had failed to turn up for an expected appointment and could not be reached by phone.

On Thursday, Malian government spokesperson Yaya Sangare released a communique referring to Cisse's disappearance as a “kidnap”, without offering further details.

“All the arrangements are being made to find the missing people and return them to their families,” the statement said.

Two URD party members, who requested anonymity, also said that the politician had been kidnapped.

Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in the north in 2012, and which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict in Mali has engulfed the centre of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists are active in the area of central Mali where Cisse and his team disappeared.

They were in the volatile region to campaign ahead of a parliamentary poll on Sunday, his party said.

The election has long been delayed because of chronic insecurity in the country.


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