A man accused of trying to kill Mali’s military strongman Assimi Goita, the figure behind two coups in less than a year, has died in custody.
The suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, was taken into custody following the assassination attempt at Bamako’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday.
“During investigations… his health deteriorated” and he was then hospitalised but “unfortunately, he has died,” the government said in a statement on Sunday.
A man armed with a knife lunged at Goita after Eid prayers on Tuesday, according to an AFP news agency reporter at the scene.
Goita was whisked away by his security officials and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing “very well”.
“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents,” he said. “There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability.”
His attacker, a young-looking man dressed in jeans and a white shirt, was apprehended at the scene and taken away by the Malian intelligence services.
The suspect was never presented to judicial authorities, a source requesting anonymity told AFP on Sunday.
His identity was not revealed, but commissioner Sadio Tomoda said late Tuesday that he was a teacher, without elaborating.
Prosecutors had opened an inquiry into the incident.
On Sunday, the government said the suspect’s death was not an obstacle to continuing the investigation, “especially since preliminary evidence and intelligence gathered indicate that he was not an isolated element”.
The attack capped months of political turmoil in a country that has rarely enjoyed stability since gaining independence from France in 1960.
Goita, a special forces colonel in his late thirties, headed a putsch last August that overthrew elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of protests over corruption and a bloody rebellion.
The military, in the face of international condemnation, handed power to a civilian-led transitional government that promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022.
But in late May, Goita, who was vice president in the transitional government, overthrew President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, saying they had sought to “sabotage” the handover.
In June, with Goita as interim president, a new government was unveiled, with military figures in key roles.