Mali’s Constitutional Court appoints junta leader Goita as new interim president
The Constitutional Court of Mali on Friday appointed Colonel Assimi Goita, head of the post-coup junta, the country’s transitional president.
The ruling stated that Goita “would serve as transitional president to bring the transition process to its conclusion,” after taking power this week.
The Constitutional Court said it made the decision because of the “vacancy in the presidency” following the resignation of interim president Bah Ndaw.
The soldiers arrested Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on Monday, before releasing them on Thursday after their resignation.
But those two arrests sparked a diplomatic outcry – and marked the second apparent coup in less than a year in the volatile country.
Ndaw and Ouane had led a transitional government tasked with leading the return to civilian rule after a coup in August that overthrew Mali’s president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Keita was kicked out by young army officers, led by Goita, following mass protests against perceived corruption and his failure to quell a bloody jihadist insurgency.
Goita was originally appointed vice president, with other key positions being given to fellow army officers.
‘We have chosen cohesion’
Earlier on Friday, Goita explained that the military had no choice but to intervene.
“We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defense and security forces and we chose cohesion,” he said.
He added that a new prime minister will be appointed in a few days, in his first remarks since taking power this week.
The army officer made the announcement during a meeting with political and civil society figures in Bamako, according to an AFP journalist, as international pressure increased on the ruling military administration in Bamako. country.
“In the coming days, the prime minister who will be appointed will conduct a wide consultation between the different factions,” said Goita.
He called on meeting attendees to back his preference for a prime minister from the M5 opposition movement, a once powerful group that the military ousted after the August coup.
“Either we agree to join hands to save our country or we wage underground wars and we will all fail,” Goita said.
The transitional government – installed under threat of regional sanctions – had a stated goal of restoring full civilian rule within 18 months.
Ndaw and Ouane’s detention came hours after a government reshuffle that would have replaced the defense and security ministers, both army officers who participated in the August coup.
The political unrest in Mali has worried the country’s neighbors, who have led the efforts to defuse the crisis.
Diplomats told AFP on Friday that the Economic Community of West African States would discuss the situation in Ghana’s capital Accra on Sunday.
The 15-nation bloc also warned against reimposing sanctions against the country; just like the United States and the former colonial master of France.
However, there are fears that the sanctions may further destabilize the poverty-stricken nation of 19 million, which has been battling a brutal jihadist insurgency since 2012.
Several hundred Malians gathered in Bamako during the day to express their support for the colonels, many of them expressing their hostility to France and calling for stronger ties with Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, for its part, welcomed the release of Ndaw and Ouane on Friday, but urged Mali to finally hold “democratic elections”.
Goita wants to appoint an M5 member as prime minister, in a move some say could ease pressure on the military.
The M5 spearheaded protests against Keita in 2020, but were excluded from key positions in the military-dominated post-coup administration.
A rapprochement with the group could serve to soften domestic and foreign criticism of the army.
The International Crisis Group said an M5 prime minister could allay international concerns.
The M5 itself seems willing to work with the military.
Group spokesman Jeamille Bittar told a press conference on Friday that M5 would nominate one of its executives, Choguel Maiga, as prime minister.
“We must all come together around the new government,” he said.
In Bamako, there was virtually no opposition to the army’s latest power play. Most have wearily accepted his role in politics.
Some even welcomed him. Several hundred people gathered to support the army in a central town square on Friday, with many portraits of Goita.