By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Mali’s military commander Assimi Goita who removed a transitional president and prime minister last month has been sworn into office as the new interim president despite facing a diplomatic backlash over his second power grab in nine months.
The 37-year-old military leader was inaugurated at a ceremony in the capital Bamako.
Goita dismissed civilian interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on May 24 after accusing them of failing to consult him about a cabinet reshuffle that would have replaced the defense and security ministers both military officers.
Former colonial power France suspended its cooperation with the Malian military and the African Union announced Mali’s “immediate suspension” from the pan-African body in the wake of the coup.
Goita served as Mali’s vice president under the transitional government, formed in September last year which pledged to reform the constitution by October and hold elections in February next year.
Goita has promised to conduct the elections as scheduled by the previous government.
Mali is key to the stability of the Sahel region, and Western powers want to see a return to civilian rule as soon as possible. For the moment, however, Goita and his fellow colonels are in charge.
France and Mali’s other partners want assurances that a civilian administration will be back in power come February 2022.
Maintaining its international partnerships, not least with France, is crucial for Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries and whose security forces are thinly resourced.
Violence remains all too prevalent in the country which on Thursday saw 11 Tuareg killed by as yet unidentified assailants near Menaka in the northeast – only the latest among thousands of victims in intercommunal and armed violence which has displaced approximately one million people.