Mali president announces new government

Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure announced a new national government on Sunday, days after the previous administration stepped down at his request.

National Television ORTM reported late on Sunday that Toure had made his decision “after a proposal by the Prime Minister” Usmane Issufi Maiga.

Maiga was appointed Prime Minister of Mali on Thursday to replace Ahmed Mohamed Ag Hamani, whose government resigned the previous day. Maiga had served as transport minister.

The president’s office did not say why Toure had requested the far-reaching government reshuffle. Hamani had held the job of Prime Minister since June 2002, when Toure came to power in the vast, poverty-stricken west African state.

Hamani had also offered his resignation and that of his govermment in October 2002 but was reappointed.
Toure hopes to give a “second wind” to his presidency which has three years to run.

The new government, of 28 ministers, was described by the president’s entourage as a “combative government” but a government of consensus filled with technocrats.

Four of the main ministries now have new incumbents. Foreign Affairs went to career diplomat Moktar Wann and the Defence portfolio to magistrate Mamadou Sissouma. The Interior Security portfolio was handed to Colonel Sadjo Gassama who had been army chief-of-staff.

The new finance minister is Abubacar Traore, an experienced economist.

Seventeen members of the old administration were retained, although many in different posts. Movie director Cheick Oumar Sissoko, president of the African Solidarity Party, maintained the Culture portfolio.

There are five women in the new government, one more than previously, including the new justice minister.

The former French colony is Africa’s third gold producer and second cotton producer. Hard-hit by drought and famine in the 1970s and 1980s, it is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, according to the United Nations. - Sapa-AFP

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