Malian Government Focused on Regaining Control of North

Posted August 22nd, 2012 at 6:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Mali's acting Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra has named three special advisors to the prime minister with ministerial ranks.

Hamadoun Toure, Sadio Lamine Sow and Mamadou Diakite were named Tuesday. Toure will be special advisor on government communication. Sow will be advisor on international affairs and Diakite on employment and training of youth.

Toure served as minister of telecommunication since 2007.

Sow was the minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation in the interim government formed in April.

Diakite was the minister of youth, employment and professional development in the transitional government.

Mali's transition leaders announced a new unity government Monday, with 31 ministerial posts. Five of them are believed to be supporters of coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo. The new government replaces the transitional one created in April, following the March 22 military coup.

The United States welcomed Mali's move, noting that two vice presidential slots have yet to be filled. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Wednesday that the United States does not see any role in the new government for the coup leader, Sanogo. She expressed hope that the unity government can take the African country forward in a democratic and stable direction, and address the concerns in the north, including some of the grievances that are fueling rebellions.

Toure told VOA that the new government will move forward with plans to seek outside help to liberate the north, which has been controlled by Islamist militants for the past five months.

“We have two priorities: re-establish territorial integrity of Mali in the north, the second priority is organizing elections. The government will start working as soon as possible and try to get support from ECOWAS, from the African Union and from the United Nations.”

West African bloc ECOWAS is planning to send a 3,000-person force to northern Mali but has said it needs a formal request from the government. Groups Ansar Dine and MUJAO used the March unrest in the capital Bamako to take over the region where they want to impose strict Muslim Sharia law.

Toure said to join the government, ministers had to agree that Mali must remain one nation and that the country is not an Islamic state.