Mali’s interim government appoints new ministers

Soldiers patrol near as military arrested Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is being held in the Kati garrison, which is 15 kilometers from the capital Bamako, Mali on August 19, 2020.(Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Mali’s interim government on Monday appointed new ministers with army figures retaining key portfolios despite growing criticism over their role.

Military officers will head the ministries of defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation in the new government, the national broadcaster said.

The war-torn West African country’s interim government pledged on 14 May to appoint a new “broad-based” cabinet, amid growing anger over the prominence of military figures and the slowness of promised reforms.

In August, army officers ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was under pressure for his handling of Mali’s jihadist insurgency.

The military, threatened by international sanctions, later handed power to a caretaker government that pledged to reform the constitution and stage elections within 18 months.

Putschists and men with military links retained powerful roles in this interim government, however.

Coup leader Assimi Goita is currently serving as interim vice president, and the interim president, Bah Ndaw, is a retired army officer.

In the new government of 25 ministers announced on Monday, the military held on to the strategic portfolios they had during the previous administration.

However, two members of the military junta that deposed Keita – ex-defence minister Sadio Camara and ex-security minister Colonel Modibo Kone – have been replaced.

Last month, the interim authorities announced that they would hold a constitutional referendum on 31 October, with elections to follow in February next year.

But conflict and political contestation in the landlocked nation of 19 million people have left some doubting whether the authorities will stick to the schedule.

Mali is struggling to quell a brutal Islamist insurgency which first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the centre of the country as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The opposition M5 movement also called this month for the dissolution of the interim government, and demanded “a more law-abiding and more legitimate” body.

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