Ba N’Daou named Mali’s interim president, colonel named VP

MALI’S former defence minister, Ba N’Daou, has been named as president of the country’s new transition government.

Colonel Assimi Goita, the leader of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) which overthrew Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was appointed vice president, state television announced on Monday.

The transitional government is to be inaugurated on September 25.

According to a plan backed by the military leaders, the new president is meant to lead the country for several months before staging elections and returning Mali to civilian rule.

Mali’s military rulers have come under intense pressure from leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to return power to civilians following the August 18 coup that overthrew President Keita.

It was unclear whether the arrangement would satisfy ECOWAS, which last week threatened to step up economic sanctions and impose a total embargo on landlocked Mali if its conditions were not met.

N’Daou and Goita were appointed by a group of 17 electors chosen by the military leaders to oversee an 18-month transition that will culminate in fresh elections.

Regional leaders had demanded the interim president be a civilian while signalling they would accept a soldier as vice president so long as he is ineligible to replace the president.

Goita did not say whether the vice president would remain next-in-line to the presidency as stipulated in a transitional charter approved in multi-party talks earlier this month.

N’Daou was once an aide-de-camp to Mali’s ex-dictator Moussa Traore, who died last week aged 83.

A veteran soldier, N’Daou received training in the former Soviet Union as well as at Paris’s renowned Ecole de Guerre.

Kaou N’Djim, a spokesman for influential Muslim leader Mahmoud Dicko, who led mass protests against Keita before the coup, praised N’Daou’s nomination.

‘Ba is an upright official. He has never been implicated in matters of financial corruption,’ N’Djim told Reuters.

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