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Ex-defence minister is Mali’s interim president

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Former Mali’s Defence Minister Col. Ba N’Daou (retd) was on Monday announced as the country’s interim president.

The leader of the junta that seized power last month Col. Assimi Goita was appointed vice president, state television announced.

Mali’s ruling junta has come under intense pressure from its West African neighbours to return power to civilians following the August 18 coup that unseat Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as President.

West African leaders insisted last week that the interim president, who will oversee an 18-month transition period, must be a civilian, while signalling they would accept a soldier as vice president.

N’Daou and Goita were appointed by group electors chosen by the junta.

A source said earlier on Monday that Mali will be led by a civilian president for an 18-month transition period after the military coup deposed the previous government.

“The body charged with naming the president for a transitional period will convene on Monday to begin consultations on the appointment,’’ the source said.

According to the source, the body authorised to elect the president “unanimously” spoke in favour of appointing a civilian to this position.

“This decision has nothing to do with pressure from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),’’ the source said.

Earlier in the month, ECOWAS leaders called for the appointment of a civilian president and prime minister for a transitional period by Sept. 23, threatening to impose a full embargo on Mali.

Mali’s military, after negotiations with political leaders and representatives of civil society, approved on Sept. 12, “the basic law and roadmap for the transition period’’.

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