France backs regional sanctions against Mali as junta calls for protests

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Mali military leader Assimi Goita sworn in as interim president | Daily  Sabah

The Malian leader of a coup last August, Col. Assimi Goita, who has overthrown two presidents in the past nine months, was sworn in as transitional president of the chronically unstable Sahel state Monday after the country’s second coup in nine months.

The ceremony in the capital Bamako came after Goita ousted the civilian president and prime minister of a transitional government 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 had traded his camouflage fatigues for a dark gray officer’s uniform and a yellow sash. “The situation offers us the opportunity to put the process of transition back in the direction desired by the people,” he announced.

He added that he was committed to implementing “the actions necessary for the success of the transition, notably the organization of credible, fair and transparent elections that are held as scheduled,” according to Reuters.

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

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 extremist violence that erupted in Mali in 2012 and now threatens the region, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Goita is under pressure from regional and international powers to ensure elections go ahead next February as scheduled, but his advisers have suggested that the timetable could change.

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