Junta takes key posts in Mali’s interim government

Mali’s interim president Bah Ndaw appointed a 25-strong government on Monday in which members of the military occupy key posts, according to a decree broadcast live on state television.

At least four central cabinet posts — defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation — go to colonels in the army, said the decree read by the president’s secretary-general Sekou Traore.

After the military assumed control of the country following a coup on August 18, a key point of contention between the ruling junta and Mali’s West African neighbors has been whether the transition back to civilian rule will be led by soldiers.

But while many plumb posts in the transition government went to soldiers, civilians were also given some key positions.

As one of the junta’s leaders, Colonel Sadio Camara, becomes defense minister, former prosecutor Mohamed Sidda Dicko gets the justice portfolio.

Junta spokesman Colonel Ismael Wague, who broke the news of the coup in a dramatic night-time television broadcast, will become the national reconciliation minister.

The West African bloc ECOWAS has heaped pressure on Mali’s junta to swiftly restore civilian rule since the army toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

After long negotiations, the junta finally agreed to complete that transition within 18 months at most.

Last week the junta abandoned a contentious measure that would have enabled its leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, to potentially replace Ndaw — himself a retired colonel — if ever he was incapacitated.

Goita officially holds the post of interim vice-president.

Mali’s interim prime minister is former foreign minister Moctar Ouane.

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