New Mali PM chooses ministers with focus on reconciliation

April 12, 2014 8:20 am
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Outgoing Malian prime minister Oumar Tatam Ly (L) shakes hands with his successor Moussa Mara during a handover ceremony in Bamako on April 9, 2014/AFP
Outgoing Malian prime minister Oumar Tatam Ly (L) shakes hands with his successor Moussa Mara during a handover ceremony in Bamako on April 9, 2014/AFP

, BAMAKO, April 12-  Mali’s new Prime Minister Moussa Mara formed a government, with the outgoing foreign minister becoming reconciliation minister as the deeply-divided nation recovers from months of ruinous conflict.

Former planning minister Mara, 39, was promoted to the premiership last weekend after Mali’s first post-war prime minister Oumar Tatam Ly quit just six months into office.

The make up of the new cabinet, announced by presidential decree on public television, places reconciliation at the top of the agenda.

Mara has promised “to mend the social fabric that has been particularly traumatised by the troubles of the previous years”.

President Ibrahima Boubacar Keita’s office gave no reason for the resignation of Ly and his ministers, but it later emerged that the outgoing prime minister had become frustrated over being unable to enact reforms in the administration.

Mara said this week that he wants to strengthen governance and public services, improving relations between citizens and the state in post-coup Mali.

Army officers angry at the level of support they had received to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in Mali’s vast desert north overthrew the democratically elected government of president Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22, 2012.

In the chaos that followed, the Tuareg seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by Al-Qaeda-linked groups which imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out punitive amputations and executions.

Their actions drew worldwide condemnation and prompted France to launch a military offensive at Mali’s behest in January last year that ousted the Islamists.

Mara said Wednesday that “the safety of all Malians wherever they are, and on the whole national territory” would be the focus of his administration.

Malians need “to mend the social fabric that has been particularly traumatised by the troubles of the previous years”, he added.

“We will lead the government with the mindset of absolute integrity among its members,” he said, promising loyalty to Keita.

His new government consists of 21 ministers, four fewer than the outgoing administration, including eight women.

Outgoing foreign minister Ould Sidi Mohamed, an Arab from northwest Mali, replaces Cheick Oumar Diarrah as minister for reconciliation.

His foreign ministry is now headed by diplomat Abdoulaye Diop.

Many ministers retain their portfolios in the new cabinet, including

Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga at defence and Sada Samake, the interior and security minister.

Keita’s landslide victory in the first presidential polls since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion (2.9 billion euros) in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of Mali’s 2012 coup.

In his resignation letter, seen by AFP, Ly spoke of a disfunctionality and “insufficiencies” which hampered his government’s capacity to act.

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