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The New Arab Staff

Toppled Mali president flies to UAE for medical treatment

Keita was overthrown in a military coup last month [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 September, 2020

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Mali's former president was toppled in a coup last month.
Mali's deposed former president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, has flown to the UAE for medical treatment, after a request from the Sahel region country's new military rulers.

UAE's official news agency reported that a diplomat had confirmed Keita will receive medical treatment in the Gulf state, after he was overthrown last month in a military coup.

Mohammed Al-Shamsi, director of the African department at the UAE ministry of foreign affairs, said the decision comes at the request of Mali's military junta and the president of neighbouring Niger. 

"The UAE believes in the importance of restoring stability in Mali through a rapid and constructive political process that ensures the best outcome for the brotherly people of Mali and the Sahel Region," Al-Shamsi said, according to WAM.

Keita was deposed in a military coup on 18 August, with the former president detained and then admitted to hospital.

His former chief-of-staff, Mamadou Camara, told Reuters that he was flown out to the UAE on Saturday following a request from Mali's new military rulers.

"It is a medical visit of between 10 and 15 days," he told the news agency.

Keita left with his wife, an attache, two doctors, and four bodyguards, according to AP.

Mali's neighbours have been fearful that the coup could spark instability in the region.

They initially sought for Keita to be reinstated as president, before dropping this demand and insisting on elections within a year.

The UAE initially "expressed its concern" about the coup due to the threat of "terrorism" in the Sahel region.

"The UAE emphasises the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Sahel region and on the need for international support for counter-terrorism efforts in this vital region," a foreign ministry statement said at the time.
In 2017, the UAE pledged $30 million towards the French-organised G5 Sahel force, fighting jihadist groups active in the region, including Al-Qaeda.

It has since promised further financial aid to the counter-terrorism force.

Last year, the UAE also pledged 1 billion dirhams ($272 million) to Mali to help with balance of payments and new housing projects.

In May, the UAE send coronavirus medical supplies to Sierra Leona, Niger and Mali.

The UAE is known for its strong presence in eastern Africa and has started to spread its influence in the west of the continent.

In February, the UAE also announced it would invest $2 billion in Mauritania.

The UAE is also one of Libya warlord Khalifa Haftar's biggest international backers.

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