Military officials in Mali detained the president, prime minister, and defense minister of the interim government on Monday, according to UN and African Union officials. This worsens an already chaotic political situation in a country beset by an Islamic insurgency.

President Bah Ndaw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, and Defense Minister Souleymane Doucoure were all detained and taken to a military base in Kati outside the capital city of Bamako.

Their detention happened an hour after a government reshuffle resulted in Interior Security Minister Modibo Kone and Defense Minister Sadio Camara, two members of the military junta that had seized power in a coup last summer, losing their positions in the interim government. No reason was given for the junta supporters’ ouster which suggests discord within the interim government.

After Kone and Camara were excluded, the military acted quickly. Thus, it is likely that the Malian junta was aware of the two men’s removal beforehand.

International Condemnation

A joint statement from several UN members, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called for the immediate release of the detained officials.

“The international community rejects in advance any act of coercion, including forced resignations,” the statement read. “They emphasize that the ill-considered action taken today carries the risk of weakening the mobilization of the international community in support of Mali.”

In addition, the United Nations mission in Mali called for the group’s “immediate and unconditional” release and said those who hold the leaders would have to answer for their actions.

The U.S. State Department also released a statement urging for the “unconditional release of those currently being held.”