By BABA AHMED and CARLEY PETESCH, Associated Press
Mali’s transitional president and vice president were sworn into office Friday, more than a month after a coup in the West African nation.
The induction ceremony in the capital, Bamako, took place as Mali remains under sanctions by the 15-nation West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, and amid uncertainty about details of the transition period.
Former Defense Minister and retired Col. Maj. Bah N’Daw is the new transitional president while Col. Assimi Goita, head of the junta that staged the Aug. 18 coup, is Mali’s new vice president. The two, along with a prime minister who will be chosen in the coming days, are to lead the transitional government to elections in 18 months.
“I am ready to make the ultimate sacrifice so that Mali becomes the country of our dreams, and to return the country to a properly elected president,” N’Daw said in his first speech to the nation. He promised to abide by the agreed conditions and timeframe for the transition.
He also said that the transition government will uphold its international commitments.
Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan attended the ceremony as representative of ECOWAS, which had pressed for a quick return to a civilian government. The regional group held days of talks with the junta and other political and civil groups in Mali to encourage a return to democacy. ECOWAS has closed borders to Mali and stopped financial flows and has said it will only lift those sanctions once it approves of the transitional plan.
Jonathan has been positive about the junta’s proposals.
On Friday, he congratulated the junta “and the way they interacted with ECOWAS.”