Mali coup chief names new cabinet with army officers in key posts

Military officers receive the strategic ministries of defence, security and national reconciliation.

Colonel Sadio Camara, one of the officers sidelined in the reshuffle that provoked last month's coup, was reappointed as defence minister [File: Malik Konate/AFP]

Weeks after leading Mali’s second coup in nine months, Colonel Assimi Goita has named a new cabinet in the country’s transitional government, with military officers receiving the strategic ministries of defence, security and national reconciliation.

An announcement on national television on Friday said Colonel Sadio Camara, one of the leaders of the August 2020 coup that removed former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, had been restored as defence minister.

Goita, who was vice president in the transitional administration that was eventually formed after Keita’s overthrew, orchestrated in late May another coup that removed interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane.

The colonel accused the pair of failing to consult him about a cabinet reshuffle that would have replaced Camara from his post, as well as Modibo Kone, who had been in charge of security.

Kone was not included in the new government lineup. Another colonel, Daoud Aly Mohammedine, was appointed security minister. Meanwhile, a man also named Modibo Kone was appointed environment minister, but a spokesperson for M5-RFP coalition, which had spearheaded months of protests against Keita before his overthrow, said he is a civilian and is not related to the colonel.

Translation: List of the new government’s members

The appointment of the new government could ease tensions with Mali’s partners who want the transitional government to press on with elections planned for February 2022.

Goita, who was vice president under the previous transitional government, was sworn in on Monday as interim president. On Wednesday, he appointed a civilian prime minister, Choguel Kokalla Maiga, in keeping with international demands, and said the elections planned for next year would be held.

Last month’s coup sparked international uproar, with the African Union and the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc suspending Mali.

France, which has thousands of troops stationed in the war-torn country, also suspended military cooperation.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to wind down his country’s 5,100-strong military operation battling armed groups across West Africa’s Sahel region.

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, who has reported extensively on Mali, said many of the cabinet members were “familiar names” as they were members of the military government.

He added, however, that the new lineup appeared to meet regional demands to form a government from an inclusive cross-section of Malian society.

“The ECOWAS had asked Goita, when he took power, to form a national unity government, and it seems that the government that he has announced, although there are many familiar faces, is one such national unity government,” Haque said.

“You have members of the M5-RFP, the civil society movement that led to the downfall of Keita; you also have members of Keita’s former ruling party; and of course, members of the military junta,” he added.

“A new face is Abdoulaye Diop, who will be the minister of foreign affairs,” Haque noted.

“He will have the tough task to rebuild relations with international actors, notably ECOWAS who has put Mali under sanctions and has suspended the country from the union – but most importantly, to re-establish connection with France.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies