The Constitutional Court of Mali on Friday declared Assimi Goïta, the colonel who led a military coup against interim President Bah Ndaw, as the new interim president of Mali.
The court made the move following what it described as a “vacancy in the presidency,” which emerged after the alleged forced resignation of Ndaw. Soldiers backing Goïta had detained Ndaw and interim Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, before releasing them Thursday after they agreed to resign from their posts.
Goïta previously assumed the role of interim vice president after leading another coup in August that overthrew the then President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, following mass protests over perceived corruption and his failure to quell a violent jihadist insurgency. The transitional government headed by Ndaw and Ouane had been installed under the threat of regional sanctions, and was supposed to restore Mali to full civilian rule within 18 months.
Ndaw and Ouane were arrested on Monday by the military after they refused to include two army officers who had taken part in last year’s coup— former Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Sadio Camara and Minister of Security and Civil Protection Modibo Koné—in the new cabinet reshuffle of the transitional government.
The Constitutional Court, which was asked to affirm the status of the Malian presidency, held that both the president and the vice president had been validly sworn under the terms of the Transitional Charter before the Supreme Court, and affirmed the vice president’s role as the direct successor of the president in case of a vacancy in the office of the Malian presidency. On this basis, the court further ruled that Goïta should fill the vacancy left by Ndaw’s resignation “to lead the transition process to its conclusion,” and that he was to carry the title of “President of the transition, Head of state.”
The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) previously insisted by the threat of regional sanctions that the transition government of Mali remain civilian-led. President Goïta visited Accra for “consultations” Sunday, before attending an extraordinary summit of ECOWAS devoted to Mali.