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 during an election campaign in a region where terrorists frequently carry out attacks. 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.
Despite having recorded first two cases of coronavirus in the expansive West African country, government confirmed that long-delayed legislative elections were due to take place this Sunday. The vote due in 2018 was rescheduled with rising insecurity.
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 case on the same day Mali did.