Bamako – Mahamadou Camara, the ex-chief of staff of Mali’s deposed president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was detained Thursday in connection with the allegedly fraudulent purchase of a presidential plane in 2014, officials said.
The move follows the August 26 detention of former prime minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, and an ex-finance minister in the unstable Sahel state, as part of the same affair.
A Supreme Court official who declined to be named told AFP on Thursday that Camara and two other people were issued arrest warrants on Monday.
Camara appeared before a judge on Thursday and was then detained in the central prison in the capital Bamako, said a prison official who also requested anonymity.
Like Maiga, Camara is being held over a corruption investigation into the purchase, without tender, of a presidential plane in 2014 for nearly $40 million.
Mali’s government auditor investigated the purchase and found that government officials had embezzled public money by overbilling for the plane.
The International Monetary Fund froze payments to Mali for six months over the plane purchase, as well as over untendered state dealings with a local military supplier.
Supporters of former prime minister Maiga – who remains a political heavyweight in the vast nation of 19 million people – view his detention as a ploy to keep him from running in the next elections.
Army officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita deposed Keita last year after weeks of protests over his failure to defeat jihadists and anger over perceived government corruption.
The military strongman has promised to restore civilian rule and stage elections in February next year.
However, there are doubts about whether the army-dominated government will be able to stick to this timetable.
Much of Mali remains outside of government control because of rampant jihadist violence. There has also been little apparent preparation for elections.
Picture: Getty Images