Mali opposition leader and entourage 'kidnapped' on campaign trail - Party

Mali’s main opposition party, Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) have confirmed that its leader and 11 other members have been missing since Wednesday, March 25.

Soumaila Cisse and his entourage are believed to have been kidnapped on campaign trail owing to the frequent terrorist attacks carried out in the region. Cisse lost presidential polls to incumbent Ibrahim Boubakar Keita in 2013 and in 2018.

A URD statement on Thursday said none of the group had been reachable since late afternoon on Wednesday, at a time they were expected to reach the village of Koumaira in the northern region of Timbuktu.

The party’s statement referred to the incident as a kidnapping but did not give any further details as to who may have been behind it. “Still no news of him or his delegation,” URD Vice President Madani Traore told Reuters.

The party said it has set up a crisis committee and urged the government, military, and U.N. peacekeepers to help find the missing group. Militants with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State launch frequent attacks on civilian and military targets in the area.

Mali had carried on with their elections unperturbed about the rise of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the African continent despite several news media and health practitioners speaking against the campaign.

Mali till yesterday was one of three West African countries that had no coronavirus cases. As at today, only Sierra Leone is virus-free in the region after Guinea-Bissau the other virus-free country recorded two cases on the same day Mali did.