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Military takes key posts in Mali’s interim government

Mali interim president Bah Ndaw is himself a retired colonel

A transition government tasked with leading Mali back to civilian rule was appointed on Monday, with numerous members of the military junta that seized power in a coup occupying key posts.

Following the bloodless August 18 coup that toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the junta vowed to relinquish control and hold fresh elections.

But Mali’s West African neighbours imposed potentially crippling sanctions, and a key sticking point in negotiations with the junta has been whether the transition will be led by soldiers or civilians.

Interim president Bah Ndaw, a former foreign minister and retired colonel who was sworn in last month, appointed a 25-strong government on Monday.

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At least four central cabinet posts — defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation — went to colonels in the army, according to a decree read live on state television by the president’s secretary-general Sekou Traore.

One of the junta’s leaders, Colonel Sadio Camara, becomes defence minister, while Colonel Modibo Kone gets the security and civil protection portfolio.

Junta spokesman Colonel Ismael Wague, who broke the news of the coup in a dramatic night-time television broadcast, will become national reconciliation minister.

But civilians were also appointed, including former prosecutor Mohamed Sidda Dicko as justice minister and former ambassador Zeini Moulaye as foreign affairs minister.

The coup came after months of protests over the country’s bloody jihadist insurgency, economic struggles and chronic inter-ethnic violence.

Different groups represented

Former armed groups that signed a peace agreement in 2015 will also be represented in the transitional government.

Members of Tuareg groups that led a rebellion in the north were awarded the agriculture and fisheries as well as youth and sports ministries, while pro-Bamako groups also received posts.

The movement that led the protests that built up to the coup received three ministerial posts.

The West African bloc ECOWAS has heaped pressure on Mali’s junta to swiftly restore civilian rule, including imposing sanctions.

After long negotiations, the junta finally agreed to complete that transition within 18 months at most.

The junta will hope that the appointment of the transition government will help convince ECOWAS to lift the sanctions.

But it was still not met all of the ECOWAS demands, in particular the dissolution of the junta and the release of civilian and military figures arrested during the coup.

Last week the junta abandoned a contentious measure that would have enabled its leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, to potentially replace Ndaw — himself a retired colonel — if ever he was incapacitated.

Goita officially holds the post of interim vice-president.

Mali’s interim prime minister is former foreign minister Moctar Ouane.

Read the Original Article on The Standard