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How Mali’s new strongman Goïta grabbed power… again

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Wednesday, 26 May 2021 13:05

Assimi Goïta and Bah N'Daw at their swearing-in ceremony in Bamako on 25 September 2020 © Amadou Keita/REUTERS

Mali’s vice-president Assimi Goïta has just dismissed President Bah N'Daw and prime minister Moctar Ouane.

Ever since Mali’s President Bah N’Daw reappointed Moctar Ouane as prime minister on 14 May, several rumours have been circulating widely. Among them are reports of disputes between the former Malian junta (Conseil National pour le Salut du Peuple, CNSP, which was dissolved in January 2021) and N’Daw over Ouane’s continued leadership of the transition government, which was supposed to be open to political groups.

Everything finally came to a head on 23 May at around 5pm, when Colonel Assimi Goïta, the vice-president of the transition government, invited himself to the Koulouba Palace. Furious over having been left out of the formation of the new government, which was then underway, Goïta expressed his anger over the fact that two influential members of the former CNSP, Colonels Modibo Koné and Sadio Camara, had not been given positions.

Prime Minister Ouane’s fate has already been sealed.

Believing that he should have a say in the formation of the government and, above all, the appointments to the defence and security departments (as granted to him by the transitional charter), the vice-president asked N’Daw to reconsider their removal. According to our information, Goïta then threatened his official superior with “irreversible” sanctions if the latter did not do as he requested. There was still time for negotiations, even if they were going to be tough.

Goïta’s ‘astonishment’

The case of Camara, who held the post of minister of defence, was debated until late on 23 May. “This reshuffle was a battle of hegemony between the president of the transition, who wanted to emancipate himself, and the military camp, which wanted to keep its men and replace the prime minister,” a source close to Ouane told us. But the standoff turned into a confrontation.

According to our sources, President N’Daw chose to ignore the threats and refused to comply with Goïta’s demands. On 24 May at around 4pm, Dr Kalilou Doumbia, secretary-general of the presidency, unveiled the second transitional government, in which Colonels Koné and Camara had been replaced by generals.