Mali Interim President Takes Office Thursday

Posted April 12th, 2012 at 12:25 am (UTC-5)
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Mali's parliament speaker, Diocounda Traore, is scheduled to be sworn as the country's interim president on Thursday.

Traore will have up to 40 days to organize a new election.

He is coming into power as part of a transition agreement between the Economic Community of West African States and renegade Malian soldiers who ousted former president Amadou Toumani Toure last month.

Since the military coup, Tuareg rebels, with the help of Islamist militants, seized control of a large area of northern Mali and proclaimed an independent state they call “Azawad.”

ECOWAS has pledged to help Mali fight the rebels.

An ECOWAS official told VOA it will hold an emergency summit on security in northern Mali Thursday in the Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan.

ECOWAS external relations director Abdel-Fatau Musah said “We are virtually at the point of resolving the coup d'etat issue, and that's the return to constitutional order in the country.” He added, “all attention now is trying to roll back the gains made by the rebels.”

The Tuareg rebels, who call themselves the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad , control much of northern Mali, including the cities of Gao and Timbuktu.

Musah warned the rebels could face harsh military action if they refuse to negotiate to end the rebellion.