Mali Colonel Assimi Goita has said he will be appointed a new prime minister in a few days, in his first statements since he took power this week.
The army official made the announcement on Friday during a meeting with political and civil society figures in Bamako, the AFP news agency reported, as international pressure on the ruling military administration increases. of the country.
Soldiers arrested President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on Monday, before releasing them on Thursday after resigning.
But the twin arrests caused a diplomatic uproar and marked the second apparent coup in a year in the unstable country.
Ndaw and Ouane had led a transitional government tasked with directing the return to civilian government following a coup last August that toppled Mali’s president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Keita was forced by young army officers, led by Goita, after massive protests over perceived corruption and its failure to quell a bloody rebellion.
“In the coming days, the prime minister who will be appointed will hold a wide-ranging consultation between the different factions,” Goita said on Friday.
He called on those attending the meeting to support his preference for a prime minister of the opposition movement M5, a once powerful group that the military set aside after the August coup.
“Either we agree to give our hands to save our country, or we wage clandestine wars and we will all fail,” Goita said.
The transitional government, installed under the threat of regional sanctions, has the stated goal of restoring full civilian rule within 18 months. But his appointments were heavily influenced by the military.
Goita, who headed the post-coup board, was named vice president and other key positions were given to army officers. The colonel’s office says he will lead the country again after the president and prime minister resign.
On Friday, Goita explained that the army had no choice but to intervene.
“We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defense and security forces and we chose cohesion,” he said.
The arrest of Ndaw and Ouane came hours after a government reshuffle that would have replaced the defense and security ministers, both army officers who had taken part in last year’s coup.
Political turmoil in Mali has worried the country’s neighbors, who have led efforts to turn off the crisis.
Diplomats told AFP on Friday that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would discuss the situation in Ghana’s capital, Accra, on Sunday.
The 15-nation bloc has also warned of the imposition of sanctions on the country; like the United States and the former colonial master France.
However, it is feared that sanctions will further destabilize the nation of 19 million people, which has been fighting armed groups since 2012.
Russia’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, on Friday congratulated the release of Ndaw and Ouane, but pressured Mali to finally hold “democratic elections.”
Goita wants to nominate a member of the June 5 Movement (M5-RFP) group as prime minister, to the extent that some say it could ease pressure on the military.
M5 led protests against Keita in 2020, but was excluded from key positions in the army-dominated post-coup administration.
An approach to the group can serve to soften domestic and foreign criticism of the military.
The international crisis group has said an M5 prime minister could calm international concerns and the movement appears willing to work with the army.
The group’s spokesman, Jeamille Bittar, said at a news conference on Friday that M5 would present one of its cadres, Choguel Maiga, as prime minister.
“We need to gather all around the new government,” he said.
In Bamako, there has been almost no opposition to the latest military power play. Most have tirelessly accepted his role in politics.
Some have even welcomed him. Several hundred people gathered in support of the army on Friday in a central square of the city, with many portraits of Goita.