Mali appoints new PM days after government resigns

Former Finance Minister Boubou Cisse appointed prime minister, tasked with forming a ‘broad government’.

Malian Minister of Economy and Finance Boubou Cisse speaks at panel on the security-development nexus during IMF spring meetings in Washington
Cisse served as the finance minister for three years [File: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters]

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has appointed a new prime minister, days after the government resigned amid a spike in violence in the restive West African country.

Former Finance Minister Boubou Cisse, 41, has been tasked with forming a “broad government” to stem the bloodshed in the country, the presidential office announced in a statement on Monday.

Cisse does not belong to any political party and served as the country’s finance minister for three years under the previous government. 

Mali’s former Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and his government resigned on Thursday, weeks after a massacre of almost 160 herders from the Fulani community by an ethnic vigilante group in the town of Ogossagou shocked the nation.

While no reason was given for the resignation, it came amid heavy criticism that Maiga had failed to deal with the country’s worsening security situation.

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from the capital, Bamako, said Cisse, who is from the ethnic Fulani origin, is a “candidate of appeasement”.

His appointment came after consultations with various actors from civil society, opposition leaders and members of the ruling party, Haque said.

“He is essentially the man who is supposed to resurrect the government of Mali,” he added.

Both Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso have been hit by a spike in hostilities heightened by Islamist armed groups seeking to extend their influence over the Sahel, an arid region between Africa’s northern Sahara desert and its southern savannas.

The fighters have built on long-standing rivalries between communities to side with Fulani herders and boost their ranks, spurring a wave of inter-ethnic clashes that culminated in the killing of 157 Fulani villagers in March.

The authorities have arrested five people suspected of taking part in the Ogossagou massacre.

But they have not yet succeeded in disarming the armed groups that many believe organised it, despite pledges by Maiga and Keita to do so.

Mali has been in turmoil since a rebellion by ethnic Tuaregs and allied fighters took over half the country in 2012, prompting the French to intervene to push them back the following year.

The latest violence took place on Sunday, when unidentified gunmen raided an army base at dawn, killing 11 soldiers and burning the camp.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies