Mali Speaker to Become Interim President Thursday

Posted April 10th, 2012 at 1:45 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Mali's parliament speaker is expected to be sworn in as interim president on Thursday, taking temporary control of a fractured nation beset by instability.

Assembly leader Dioncounda Traore will have a maximum of 40 days under the constitution to organize a new election.

Mali's constitutional court on Tuesday cleared the way for Mr. Traore's swearing in after formally accepting Sunday's resignation of President Amadou Toumani Toure.

Mr. Toure was ousted in a March 22 military coup after renegade soldiers accused the president of failing to properly equip them to handle a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

Since then, Tuareg separatists with the help of radical Islamic militants have seized major northern cities from the army.

The United Nations Security Council has expressed “deep concern at the increased terrorist threat” in northern Mali, saying elements of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and extremist elements are among the Tuareg fighters.

In a statement late Monday, the Security Council demanded an end to all hostilities in the north by rebel groups and said it remains worried about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Mali.

Meanwhile, the United States has commended the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, for brokering an agreement with junta leaders and restoring civilian rule.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday the deal is a “very good step” for Mali.

“We wanted civilian rule re-established so that dialogue can now commence with the Tuaregs that redresses their grievances within a unified Mali, and real effort can be made to secure the country against the AQ elements that have taken advantage.”

She said the United States will monitor the situation in coming days to help decide if non-humanitarian aid cut off last month should be restored.

ECOWAS has pledged to help Mali fight the Tuareg rebels, who have proclaimed the north as an independent state.