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United Nations Security Council on Wednesday ordered Malian mutineers to immediately release detained officials, including the country’s president, and “return to their barracks without delay.”

The 15 members also “underlined the urgent need to restore rule of law and to move towards the return to constitutional order,” according to a Council statement.

Rebel soldiers took President Ibrahim Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse into custody on Tuesday afternoon and drove the pair to a military base on the outskirts of Bamako, which they had seized that morning.

Keita, whose government had been beset by months of protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, later announced early Wednesday that he had resigned to avoid “bloodshed”.

“If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said of the day’s events.

“(I must) submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed,” the ousted 75-year-old president added in a television broadcast.

The coup’s leaders appeared on television hours later to pledge a political transition and new elections within a “reasonable time”.

Malian Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, Ismael Wague, said he and his fellow officers had “decided to take responsibility in front of the people and of history”.

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