, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula has been safely evacuated from the troubled Mali capital.
The Minister posted on his Facebook page early Sunday morning that he and other ministry officials had been evacuated from Bamako by a Government of Kenya-chartered plane and that they had landed safely in Lagos, Nigeria.
“Thank God! We have been evacuated from Bamako by a GOK chartered plane. We have arrived in Lagos Nigeria and enthusiastically received by Kenyans led by the KQ manager in the region my good old friend Mr Maundu. We thank u all. We take a KQ flight in the morning for Nairobi arriving 6.00pm,” the Minister’s Facebook update read.
Wetangula and other ministry officials were holed up at a hotel in Bamako following a military coup in Mali by low ranking officers who are protesting being poorly armed to fight a Tuareg insurgency in the north of the vast country.
He was attending an African Union summit on Peace and Security and was about to head to the airport when the coup started on Wednesday afternoon.
Wetangula and his Zimbabwean counterpart, alongside their officers, were holed up in a hotel in Bamako after a curfew was imposed. Negotiations initiated by the AU later saw the junta allow temporary opening of the airspace for the stranded leaders to leave.
An earlier attempt to have them evacuated flopped on Saturday after the pilot of a chartered plane declined to fly into Mali, citing security concerns. The UN had also chartered a flight to evacuate staff from Bamako.
“A light UN plane was allowed in tonight. One seat was available and offered to me but I declined to take the seat and gave it to one stranded Kenyan Mr Kaberia,” Wetangula wrote on his Facebook page. “I found it difficult and immoral to jump on the plane to safety and leave my officers and other available Kenyans in uncertainty. We still await our date with fate. Goodnight Kenyan compatriots and friends.”
Later, after the successful flight to Lagos, Nigeria, the Minister condemned the coup.
“An experience never to forget. Coup d’etats are unacceptable and must be condemned by all, Mali being no exception. The flimsy reasons advanced by the coup makers and executioners are mere excuses. Thanks to the AU for expelling them in accordance with the Constitutive Act, the successor to the OAU Charter.”
He further scorned the new authorities, describing how they were intimidated by the global condemnation they have received after their mutiny on Wednesday.
“It is amazing how the soldiers who were shooting all around us, upon receiving no-nonsense messages from UN SG Ban Ki-Moon & AU commission Chairman Dr Jean Ping to not only ensure our safety but also give us safe passage suddenly turned up in large numbers (close to100) to escort us to the a/port. In fact my car with the colleague from Zimbabwe was driven by the Commissioner of police. This did not take away our fear as both him and his mate adorned two Kalashnikovs each.”