Ex-defence minister appointed Mali’s transition leader

BAMAKO (AFP) – Mali’s military junta announced the leaders of a new transition government in the Sahel state on Monday, which will retain strong army links despite international pressure to appoint civilians after a coup.

Junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita said in a televised statement that former defence minister Bah Ndaw would become transition President – while he himself would serve as Vice President.

The announcement comes after the 15-nation West Africa bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last week gave Mali’s ruling officers “days” to appoint civilian leaders, warning that it would not lift sanctions on the country otherwise.

West African leaders imposed sanctions on Mali – including a trade embargo and shuttered borders – in the wake of the August 18 military coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The junta said last week that it would prefer the military to run the transition, however.

Ndaw, a 70-year-old retiree, was appointed transition president by a committee chosen by the junta, Goita said on Monday.

“Each proposal has its advantages and its disadvantages,” he said, referring to the choice between a civilian or Military President.

He added that the committee had taken “a global context” into account when picking Ndaw, in an apparent reference to pressure from ECOWAS, which has yet to comment on the appointment.