Bah Ndaw: Mali will swear as interim civilian chief after the coup

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image copyrightAFP

legendBah Ndaw, seen here in white, was sworn in at a ceremony in the capital, Bamoko

The new president of Mali was sworn in, five weeks after the overthrow of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

Former defense minister Bah Ndaw, 70, has been chosen by coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita to lead a transitional government until elections, which are expected in 18 months.

Col Goita will be its vice-president.

The appointment of a civilian president was a condition for the West African regional group, Ecowas, to lift the sanctions it imposed after the coup.

Stocks of goods are running out in the capital, Bamako, where companies are hoping for an announcement from Ecowas after the inauguration.

Who will really rule Mali?

By Mayeni Jones, West Africa Correspondent

One thing that is not clear is to what extent Bah Ndaw will be able to punch after he is sworn in.

He was chosen because he was highly respected, both in the military and by the general public. It is also said that he gets along well with Col Assimi Goita.

Representing a united front will be at the heart of the success of the tenure of Mr. Ndaw and his vice-president. Any perception that the interim president is not really in charge could lead to new international pressure on the junta.

West African heads of state fear that the coup in Mali could lead to further uprisings in a region facing multiple elections in the coming months.

Members of the M5-RFP opposition coalition, which has staged mass protests against the ousted leader, will also follow closely, having previously felt sidelined in the process of appointing a replacement.

The next 18 months will be crucial in determining how close Mali is to democracy.

Who is Bah Ndaw?

A Soviet-trained helicopter pilot who rose through the ranks of the Malian Air Force, Mr. Ndaw recently served as Minister of Defense to ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

He left in 2015 after less than a year, which sparked speculation in the national press about the fallout from the reintegration of deserters into the army.

During his brief stint as minister, Ndaw signed a defense accord in 2014 with the former colonial power, France, whose troops had intervened a year earlier to fight Islamist rebels.

image copyrightEPA

legendBah Ndaw (C) with junta leaders Col Assimi Goita (left) and Col Malick Diaw (right) on Thursday

He was previously assistant to the late President Moussa Traoré.

During his decorated career, Mr. Ndaw graduated from the French Elite War School and received the National Order of Mali as well as the Medal of Military Merit as well as the Medal of National Merit.

People close to the retired Colonel Major are said to call him “The Great” because of his imposing height of 1.95 cm (6 feet 4 inches).

Why was there a coup?

President Keïta was ousted on August 18 following mass protests against his rule over corruption, mismanagement of the economy and a dispute over legislative elections.

image copyrightAFP
legendThousands of people attended mass rallies called by the M5-RFP opposition coalition calling for the president’s resignation

Mali is also grappling with intense Islamist violence, with thousands of French, African and UN soldiers based in the country to fight the militants.

The coup drew international condemnation, but it was welcomed by many Malians.

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