UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] expressed concern [statement] on Wednesday over the new wave of arrests targeted at high-ranking officials within Mali. BAn demanded immediate release of those who had been imprisoned and asked that the junta stop all further arrests. He stated that these actions directly conflicted with the steps Mali has taken to re-establish constitutional order within its borders. Ban's comments come just days after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for national and international action [JURIST report] to bring an end to the political instability and continuing human rights violations. Ban and Pillay join a host of other international leaders [Reuters report] who have denounced the arrests including those from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) [official websites]. The African Union released its own statement Wednesday condemning the arbitrary arrests [press release, PDF] and the negative impact they are having on the resurrection of constitutional order.
Mali has experienced military turmoil since Taureg rebels began attacking Malian soldiers [Al Jazeera report] in January. Last month Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, who led Malian soldiers in a military coup [JURIST report], announced he would reinstate the country's 1992 Constitution [text, PDF, in French] and create a transitional government to hold elections. Also in March the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [official website] expressed concern over political and security instability in Mali [JURIST report], and how ongoing fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels will affect Malians forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Last month the acting head of the EU delegation in Mali, Bertrand Soret, met with Sanogo and urged a quick return to constitutional order [JURIST report]. Soret indicated that the EU expected the Malian military to find a solution to the current crisis, and that he has asked to have access to government ministers that have been detained by the military. The UNHCR reported last month that more than 80,000 people had fled Mali [press release] to escape the fighting.