Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of the post-coup junta in Mali has been named as the country’s transitional President by the constitutional court.
The ruling issued late on Friday May 28, said Assimi Goita would “lead the transition process to its conclusion” and carry the title of “president of the transition, head of state”.
The court said Goita who led the first coup last August, which saw the elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta forced out of office, was named as the transitional President due to the “vacancy in the presidency”.
On Monday May 24, the two men tasked with steering the country back to civilian rule, interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were detained by soldiers. Col Goita said that both men had failed in their duties and were seeking to sabotage the country’s transition. They were released on Thursday May 27 after resigning.
Friday’s ruling raised the stakes as West African leaders prepared to meet on Sunday May 30 to decide how they would respond to the takeover, which regional and Western governments fear could exacerbate instability in northern and central Mali and undermine a regional fight against armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).
Goita had originally been named vice president with other key posts given to fellow army officers. Earlier on Friday, in his first public comments since seizing power, Col Goïta defended his actions.
“We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defence and security forces, and we chose cohesion.”
Goita said a new prime minister would be appointed within days, and that elections would still go ahead next year as planned.