Ex-defence minister appointed Mali interim president, junta leader named VP

Colonel Assimi Goita, head of Mali's military junta, will serve as the country's vice-president.
Colonel Assimi Goita, head of Mali's military junta, will serve as the country's vice-president. © Michele Cattani, AFP

Former Mali defence minister and retired colonel Bah Ndaw was named interim president on Monday while the leader of the junta that seized power last month was appointed vice president, state television announced.


Mali's ruling junta has come under intense pressure from leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to return power to civilians following the Aug. 18 coup that overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

It was unclear whether the arrangement would satisfy ECOWAS, which last week threatened to step up economic sanctions and impose a total embargo on landlocked Mali if its conditions were not met. An ECOWAS spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

The leaders, and Mali's partners such as France and the United States, are nervous the coup will set a dangerous precedent, and undermine a fight against Islamist militants across the Sahel region.

Ndaw and Goita were appointed by a group of 17 electors chosen by the junta to oversee an 18-month transition that will culminate in fresh elections. They will be sworn in on Friday, Goita said in brief remarks on state television.

Regional leaders had demanded that the interim president be a civilian, while signalling they would accept a soldier as vice president so long as he is ineligible to replace the president.

Goita did not say whether the vice president would remain next-in-line to the presidency as stipulated in a transitional charter approved a multi-party talks earlier this month.

Ndaw served as defence minister under Keita and was an aide to Mali's former military ruler Moussa Traore.

Kaou N'Djim, a spokesman for influential Muslim cleric Mahmoud Dicko, who led mass protests against Keita before the coup, praised Ndaw's nomination.

"Bah is an upright official. He has never been implicated in matters of financial corruption," N'Djim told Reuters.


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