Mali junta sworn in as interim president

Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goita has been sworn into office Monday as a transitional president at the International Conference Centre in Bamako, despite international condemnation of the power grab.

The 37-year-old officer’s investiture speech promised to adhere to the schedule period of returning the country to civil rule.

France and Mali’s other partners want assurances that a civilian administration will be back in power come February 2022.

Following international pressure, the government installed after Goita’s first coup last August pledged to reform the constitution by October, and stage elections in February next year.

Mali is key to the stability of the Sahel region, and Western powers want to see a return to stable, civilian rule as soon as possible. For the moment, however, Goita and his fellow colonels are in charge.

Goita dismissed the civilian president and prime minister of the transitional administration on May 24, leading former colonial power France to suspend its cooperation with the military — and for the African Union to suspend Mali’s membership.

Goita is expected to nominate as his prime minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga, a former minister and member of the M5 protest movement which helped to force out former president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August following mass protests over perceived corruption and a bloody jihadist insurgency.

Maintaining its international partnerships, not least with France, is crucial for Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries and whose security forces are thinly resourced.

Violence remains all too prevalent in the country which on Thursday saw 11 Tuareg killed by as yet unidentified assailants near Menaka in the northeast — only the latest among thousands of victims in intercommunal and jihadist violence which has displaced around one million people.

The extent to which the region as a whole faces uncertainty was underscored when presumed Islamist radicals killed at least 160 people in neighbouring Burkina Faso’s northeast on Friday night in the worst attack the country has seen.

 

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