Mali’s coup leader has been sworn in as president of a transitional government, solidifying his grip on power in the West African nation after carrying out his second coup d’etat in nine months
BAMAKO, Mali — Mali’s coup leader Col. Assimi Goita was sworn in Monday as president of a transitional government, solidifying his grip on power in the West African nation after carrying out his second coup d’etat in nine months.
Goita, who first grabbed power in August 2020 by overthrowing Mali’s democratically elected president, eventually agreed to a transitional government led by a civilian president and prime minister. But two weeks ago he ousted those civilian leaders after they announced a cabinet reshuffle that sidelined two junta supporters without consulting him. Mali’s constitutional court also approved him as interim president.
“I would like to reassure the international community that Mali will honor all of its commitments,” he said.
Goita faces international pressure to hold an election in February 2022, as required by the original transitional government agreement last year. Given the latest developments, however, it is unclear what will happen on the election front.
Continued political instability in Mali, many fear, could further embolden Islamic extremists, who have been carrying out attacks for nearly a decade in the country’s volatile north.
The West African regional bloc, known as the Economic Community of West African States, has been supporting mediation talks in Mali. ECOWAS also called for a new civilian prime minister in Mali to be nominated immediately, and a new inclusive government to be formed.
The regional bloc, and the AU, have made clear that the head of the transition government, the vice president and the prime minister should not under any circumstances be candidates in the next presidential election.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is returning to Mali this week to continue mediation on behalf of ECOWAS.
Islamic extremists took control of major towns in northern Mali after the 2012 coup. Only a 2013 military intervention led by former colonial power France pushed the extremists out of those towns. France and a U.N. force have continued to battle the extremists, who operate in rural areas and regularly attack roads and cities.
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