A Mali parliament vice president has been arrested for allegedly making “subversive utterances” on social media.
According to a judicial official who requested anonymity, Issa Kaou N’Djim, a powerful figure in the conflict-torn Sahel state, was detained in the capital Bamako on Tuesday.
The official went on to explain that the lawmaker had been arrested for making “subversive utterances,” but provided no further details.
N’Djim is a supporter of Mali’s army strongman Assimi Goita, although he is known for his sharp criticism of Interim Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga.
Kassoum Tapo, N’Djim’s lawyer, said his client’s detention is illegal because he has parliamentary immunity.
N’Djim is a deputy president of the temporary legislature founded following Goita’s military coup in August 2020, which toppled elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Under diplomatic pressure, the army subsequently handed power to a civilian-led interim government tasked with steering Mali back towards civilian rule.
But Goita deposed the leaders of this government in May, in a second coup, and was later declared interim president himself.
The strongman is facing pressure to stage swift elections to restore civilian rule, including from regional bloc ECOWAS and the United Nations.
Goita’s government has refused to be drawn on a date, however, and has said it will decide when it will stage elections in December.
N’Djim’s arrest comes after he criticised the government for expelling an ECOWAS representative this week, for reasons that remain unclear.