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World News

Mali announces new government following August coup

FILE PHOTO: The new interim president of Mali Bah Ndaw is sworn in during the Inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Amadou Keita

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali announced a new government on Monday, with some of the top posts going to military officials following a coup on Aug. 18 that deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The ministries of defence, territorial administration, security and national reconciliation will be headed by military personnel, as Mali begins an 18-month transition back to civilian rule, the presidency said in an announcement read out on state television. Civilians will hold 21 other posts.

It is not rare for military personnel to hold government posts in Mali, and they did so also under Keita, but the issue has become more sensitive since the coup, when West Africa’s regional bloc pushed for a purely civilian leadership in Bamako.

The appointments follow the announcement last month of retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president and colonel Assimi Goita, who led the coup, as vice president. Veteran diplomat Moctar Ouane has been named interim prime minister.

Malian officials hope that the resumption of a functioning government will persuade Mali’s neighbours to lift sanctions imposed since the coup that have crippled the agricultural, landlocked economy, which relies heavily on imports.

It is not yet clear if and when the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will decide to lift the sanctions.

As well as fearing that the coup could undermine their own power, presidents in the wider Sahel region are concerned that prolonged uncertainty could jeopardise a joint campaign against Islamist militants centred in northern and central Mali.

A previous coup in Mali in 2012 helped hasten the fall of the desert north to al Qaeda-linked militants. A French intervention the following year drove them back, but jihadist attacks have risen again in recent years and spilled over into neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.

Reporting By Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Gareth Jones

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