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Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goita sworn in as transitional president

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Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, on August 19, 2020 after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). – The military junta that took power in Mali on August 19, 2020, asked that the population resume “its activities” and cease “vandalism” the day after the coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his government. (Photo by MALIK KONATE / AFP)

Malian strongman Colonel Assimi Goita was sworn in as transitional president of the chronically unstable Sahel state on Monday, an AFP journalist saw.

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The ceremony in the capital Bamako came after Goita, the leader of a coup last August, ousted the civilian president and prime minister of a transitional government on May 24, to international condemnation.

“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.

Mali’s second putsch in nine months has sparked diplomatic uproar, prompting the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to suspend Mali.

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France has also suspended joint military operations with Malian forces, and stopped giving military advice.

The former colonial power has thousands of troops stationed in the semi-arid Sahel to help fight jihadist violence that erupted in Mali in 2012 and now threatens the region.

Maintaining its international partnerships, not least with France, is crucial for Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries and whose security forces are thinly resourced.

Monday’s ceremony is expected to clear the path towards appointing a civilian prime minister — a key international demand.

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