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Mali`s new premier picks first post-war government

Last Updated: Saturday, September 7, 2013 - 13:54

Bamako: Mali`s first post-war prime minister began forming a government as the United States and France gave an early vote of confidence to the new administration, pledging support.

Career technocrat Oumar Tatam Ly was named as head of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita`s government on Thursday, taking over from interim premier Diango Cissoko.

Ly will be expected to deliver on promises by the president to reunite a deeply divided nation and crack down on corruption.

The new administration got a significant boost yesterday when the US State Department said Washington would resume development aid to Mali which was suspended after the ex-president was ousted in a coup last year.

The transition means "a democratically elected government has taken office in Mali," the State Department said in a statement, adding that Washington would continue to assess the situation before renewing military assistance.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius earlier welcomed Ly`s appointment.

"Alongside President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the competence of Oumar Tatam Ly will be a valuable asset in confronting the challenges facing Mali and the Sahel," he said in a statement.

"As Mali opens a new page it can count on France, which will be its partner, ally and friend," he said in a statement.

Ly has spent most of the last two decades as a central bank functionary and is expected to rely on advisers with more political experience.

He has to choose colleagues for a cabinet charged with returning stability to a country upended by a military coup and Islamist insurgency last year.

He began consultations with potential ministers immediately after being appointed on Thursday, his aides told a news agency. They would not however say who was in consideration for the major portfolios.

One member of Ly`s inner circle who has known the new premier for 20 years described him as a reserved and exacting man who disliked amateurism.

"I believe that the way the government operates could change," the aide told AFP. "There will be accountability for results for all members of the government.

"Good governance will be the basis of every action of the new prime minister."

Ly`s appointment got a cautious welcome in the mainstream media. The daily newspaper Le Soir describing the 49-year-old as "a choice in line with the wishes of Malians".

The reaction on social networks was mixed, with some taking to Twitter to express doubts over the appointment -- as one critic put it -- of "an apolitical prime minister in a very political period".


First Published: Saturday, September 7, 2013 - 13:54
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