Hundreds of supporters of Mali’s M5 opposition movement have gathered in the capital Bamako to show support to the military days after Mali underwent a second coup.
The rally on Friday was held in Independence Square in Bamako to commemorate the founding of the movement, which powered mass protests last year.
But it also came after Colonel Assimi Goita deposed the civilian transitional president and prime minister on May 24.
“In a way, this [rally] is a show of support for the [M5] movement, but also of the military junta,” said Al Jazeera’s Nicholas Haque, reporting from Bamako.
Malian soldiers on May 25 detained interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and stripped them of their powers, plunging the country into further uncertainty after a military coup in August last year.
Goita may name a leading M5 figure as his new prime minister – a move that some argue could soften international criticism of the second coup.
The military latest seizure of power has sparked diplomatic uproar, prompting the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to suspend Mali.
Offering a firm rebuke on Thursday, France also said it would suspend joint military operations with Malian forces and would stop advising the Malian military.
Mali’s former colonial ruler has thousands of troops stationed in the Sahel to help fight armed groups after violence erupted in Mali in 2012 and now threatens the region.
France’s defence ministry said the suspension was a “conservative and temporary measure” pending “guarantees” that Mali’s ruling military will stage elections in February 2022.