Mali has reportedly announced former foreign minister Moctar Ouane as the country’s new interim Prime Minister. This appointment follows two days after retired Colonel Bah Ndaw was sworn in as the country’s president and coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita was sworn in as vice president. This government reformation is in response to ECOWAS blocking Mali from trade relations after the ousting of former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August.
Mali’s challenges are varied. Mali has been experiencing eight years of civil unrest by a separatist group in the North region which is compounded by Jihadist insurgence. Four thousand people have been killed over the unrest since 2016 and millions have been displaced. The country has 18 months with a transitional government to set the ground for democratic rule. The ECOWAS bloc had demanded a civilian leader be installed as a condition for lifting the sanctions with the hope that Oune’s appointment would lead to a smoother transition for the country.
Civil unrest in Mali gained momentum after Keita’s dissolution of Mali’s Constitution in March of this year. Protests by Malians calling for Keita’s resignation began shortly after. The country started public demonstrations on June 5th and they increasingly became violent with 11 fatalities recorded in the July 10th anti-government demonstrations. Former Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan attempted an intervention with regional body ECOWAS with which Keita met. Despite the intervention and Keita complying with ECOWAS instructions, Mali’s military gained public support. The army subsequently sieged Keita’s house with military tanks and forced him to resign on August 18th.
A month after the forced resignation of Keita, ECOWAS sanctioned Mali putting pressure on the country to assemble a government body to meet conditions of lifting its sanctions. Oune, is a retired 64-year-old diplomat and has served as Mali’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1995 to 2002, afterwards he assumed office as foreign minister from 2004 to 2011.