Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goita was sworn into office as the country’s transnational president on Monday despite international condemnation of May’s power grab, the second coup in the less than 9 months.
“I swear before God and the Malian people to preserve the republican regime… to preserve democratic gains,” said Goita, who was dressed in full military regalia.
The 38 year-old special forces commander, had already been declared President by the constitutional court last month after ousting Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane during a ceremony in the Nation’s capital, Bamako. He accused them of failing to consult him about a cabinet reshuffle that would have replaced the defence and security ministers both – military officers.
The transnational government led Ndaw and Ouane was installed after the first coup in August 2020. They were forced to resign after their arrest and have since been released.
However, Mali’s putsch has sparked diplomatic uproar, prompting the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to suspend Mali. Also, France suspended joint military operations with Malian forces and stopped giving military advice.
Goita says he is under pressure from regional and international powers to ensure elections go ahead next February as scheduled, who worry the political upheaval could jeopardise gains made against Islamist insurgents based in the country’s desert north.
According to him, he was committed to implementing “the actions necessary for the success of the transition, notably the organisation of credible, fair and transparent elections that are held as scheduled.”
The son of a former director of Mali’s military police, Goita studied at the country’s main military school. In 2002, he went to Mali’s desert north for training and was subsequently based in the northern cities of Gao, Kidal, Timbuktu, Menaka and Tessalit. He also saw action during the 2012 Tuareg armed rebellion.
A Colonel said Goita is not concerned about how people see him. “He’s a man of action, we saw him in the north,” he said.
Goita was one of several colonels who overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August.