Mali swears in interim President Bah Ndaw to lead a transitional government

Mali’s interim president, Bah Ndaw, elected to lead a transitional government after last month’s coup, was sworn in during ceremonies in the capital Bamako on Friday, AFP reporters witnessed.

A committee appointed by the military junta that seized power on August 18 and overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita elected Ndaw, a 70-year-old retired colonel, as interim president.

The Ndaw must lead a transitional government for a maximum of 18 months before organizing national elections.

In a speech, Ndaw said he would strive for “a stable, calm and successful transition within the agreed terms and time frame”.

“Mali has given me everything. I am happy to be its submissive slave, willing to do anything to return to full constitutional legality with elected authorities and legitimate representatives,” he declared.

The former defense minister also promised to uphold Mali’s international commitments: “The transition period that begins will not contest any international commitment from Mali or the agreements signed by the government.”

He also promised to continue a “ruthless war” against “terrorist forces and organized crime” and called for a moment of silence to honor fallen troops – Malians, French and the UN.

ECOWAS maintains sanctions

West African states will maintain sanctions against Mali until they appoint a civilian prime minister, the head of ECOWAS ‘regional bloc leader said on Friday.

The 15-National Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) struck sanctions against Mali after the coup.

The sanctions “will be lifted when a civilian prime minister is appointed,” said ECOWAS commission president Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.

Military junta leader as vice president

Colonel Assimi Goita, who led Mali’s military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.

The ceremony on Friday took place in a theater filled with officials dressed in military fatigue, senior judges and foreign diplomats.

During the ceremony, Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Boya Dembele said both men’s challenges were “enormous”.

“It will really require a reformulation of the state,” the judge said dressed in red, fur-lined robes.

Last month’s coup followed weeks of mass protests against Keita, spurred on by frustrations over a brutal jihadist conflict, perceived corruption and the country’s declining economy.

Mali has fought to quell an eight-year-old Islamist uprising that has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

(Axadle  with AFP)

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