Mali: Court appoints coup leader, Colonel Goita as Interim President

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Following the resignation of Mali’s President Bah Ndaw and PM Moctar Ouane, which was brought about by their initial arrest on Monday 24th of May, detention till Wednesday and eventual release on Thursday, the coup leader,

Colonel Assimi Goita, named himself the country’s new transitional president. After the power seizure, Goita remarked that a new Prime Minister will be appointed within days and late on Friday the 28th, Mali’s constitutional Court appointed Col Assimi as interim president who would “lead the transition process to its conclusion” and carry the title of “president of the transition, head of state”.

In August last year, Col Goita led a successful coup to overthrow the then President Ibrahim Boubacar Keith after which the Ecowas threatened sanctions unless a caretaker government under civilian leadership took over from the military.

The transitional government was due to end with elections in February and in Goita’s speech, he added that he would name a new prime minister from among the members of the M5-RFP coalition, which led protests against Keita last year and fell out with Ndaw and Ouane during the transition.

 

Who is Col Assimi?

Assimi Goïta was born in 1983. The son of an officer of the Malian Armed Forces, he was trained in the military academies of Mali and notably attended the Prytanée militaire de Kati and the Joint Military School in Koulikoro.

Goïta served as a colonel in the Autonomous Special Forces Battalion, the special forces unit of the Malian Armed Forces. He heads the Malian special forces in the center of the country with the rank of colonel. He is thus confronted with the jihadist insurgency in Mali.

Goïta serves as the leader of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, a group of rebels who overthrew Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in the 2020 Malian coup d’état, and have pledged to initiate new elections to replace him. Because of this pledge, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) pressured Mali’s ruling junta for the country to be led by a civilian. On 21 September he was named vice president by a group of 17 electors, with Bah Ndaw being appointed president. He was appointed vice president of the Transition on September 21, 2020, a position he will hold for 18 months, until new elections. He took the oath of office on September 25, 2020. On October 1, 2020, the “Mali Transition Letter” was published where it was specified, in response to the request of the ECOWAS, that the vice president “in charge of defense and security issues” would not be able to replace President Bah Ndaw.

Goïta received training from the United States, France, and Germany, and had experience working with United States Army Special Forces.

On May 24, 2021, Goïta was involved in the 2021 Malian coup d’état, after which he seized power. President Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were detained. Goïta claimed that Ndaw was attempting to “sabotage” the transition to democracy, and committed to elections in 2022. The coup was instigated by Goïta’s claim that Ndaw failed to consult him about a cabinet reshuffle.

On May 28, 2021, the constitutional court declared him interim president of Mali. The court ruling stated that Goïta should carry the title “president of the transition, head of state” to “to lead the transition process to its conclusion”. On the same day, he said that he would name a prime minister from the M5-RFP coalition.

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