19/09/2021

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Mali names members of interim parliament as army cements control

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Mali’s interim government on Thursday announced the composition of a new legislative body for the West African country’s transition to civilian rule, with the military retaining a key role.

Young army officers in the conflict-ridden Sahel state toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18 after weeks of anti-government protests.

Under the threat of international sanctions, the officers between September and October handed power to an interim government, which is meant to rule for 18 months before staging elections.

Coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita, who was made vice president of the interim government, was given veto power last month over the appointments to the 121-seat legislative body.

The move was seen by critics of the military-dominated interim regime as strengthening army control.

The final list for the new National Transitional Council was published by a decree from the interim president, Bah Ndaw, himself a retired army colonel.

The list of appointments was read out late Thursday on national television. Members of the defense and security forces received 22 seats.

The body will meet for the first time on Saturday and will elect its president.

The opposition June 5 Movement, or M5, last month called for “resistance” after it was announced Goita would have the final say on the MPs.

As interim vice president, Goita is in charge of security issues in a country which has struggled to quell a brutal militant insurgency since 2012.

The transitional government’s mandate is meant to last for 18 months with a return to democratic civilian rule.

The disagreements over the assembly’s composition threaten to derail plans for elections, national reconciliation and the fight against militants in the north of the country.

Anger over the seemingly endless conflict, as well as over perceived corruption, contributed to the protests which culminated in Keita’s ouster.

AFP