Bah Ndaw, a retired colonel who has been appointed Mali’s interim president after last month’s coup, made his first public appearance on Thursday and met with a regional mediator, AFP reporters said.
Ndaw, 70, met former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Bamako on a mission for the 15-nation bloc ECOWAS on the eve of his inauguration.
Ndaw’s appointment was announced Monday by Colonel Assimi Goita, who is leading a junta of young military officers who seized power on August 18, removing President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Goita himself will serve as vice president during the announcement.
The interim president will rule for a maximum of 18 months before holding nationwide elections.
ECOWAS – the economic community of the West African states – imposed sanctions on August 20 to push for the speedy recovery of the civilian government, including the appointment of civilians as interim president and prime minister.
The bloc may announce Friday whether the plan meets the criteria for easing sanctions, Jonathan said Thursday.
An official close to the sanctions debate, who declined to be named, said “consultations are still ongoing”.
Jonathan was due to meet with other Malian officials on Thursday in addition to the Ndaw, including prominent figures detained by the military following last month’s coup.
ECOWAS has demanded the release of all detainees. Keita was released, but former Prime Minister Boubou Cisse has been detained among other officials.
Mali’s neighbors have taken a hard line with the junta and are afraid that the fragile nation of around 19 million people could go into chaos.
Shards in the big country are already out of government control due to a deadly jihadist uprising that first erupted in 2012. It has also inflamed ethnic tensions.
Current restrictions include border closures and a ban on commercial trade and financial flows, but not on basic necessities, drugs, coronavirus, fuel or electricity.