Mali coup leader Assimi Goita named president of transitional government

Interim president and prime minister resigned on Wednesday while in military detention

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Mali's military Vice President Col Assimi Goita is taking over as president of the transitional government, the country's constitutional court said on Friday.

Mr Goita, leader of Mali's 2020 coup, will assume  the functions of president for the duration of the transition.

Interim president Bah Ndaw and interim prime minister Moctar Ouane, who were meant to oversee preparations for elections after last August's coup, resigned on Wednesday while in military detention.

The court said in a four-page ruling that Mr Goita should fill the vacancy left by Mr Ndaw's resignation "to lead the transition process to its conclusion" and carry the title of "president of the transition, head of state".

The ousted leaders were freed in the early hours of Thursday, after the UN, US and regional authorities called for their immediate release.

Mr Goita, who had been serving as the transitional vice president since September, regained control of the West African country by deposing of the interim president and prime minister in a surprise move.

Mr N'Daw and Mr Ouane were arrested on Monday along with other government leaders, hours after naming a new Cabinet that did not include two major former junta leaders.

While in detention, Mr Ndaw dismissed the prime minister before handing in his own resignation letter, according to a military official and a West African diplomat involved in mediation.

Maj Baba Cisse, the special adviser to Mr Goita, who led arrests on Monday, said the resignations of Mr Ndaw and Mr Ouane took place in the presence of arbitrators.

The UN Security Council met on Wednesday over Mali and condemned the arrests.

A statement approved by all 15 council members after closed consultations said that “imposing a change of transitional leadership by force, including through forced resignations, is unacceptable”.

The Security Council reiterated its strong support for mediation efforts by the African Union and West African regional group, known as Ecowas, led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.