Mali’s new president sworn in, pledges to hand over in 18 months

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Bah Ndaw formally took office on Friday with a pledge to hand over power within 18 months in accordance with international agreements.

He also promised to strive for “a stable, calm and successful transition, in the agreed conditions and time frame,” a reference to the roadmap to civilian rule endorsed by the military junta which seized power on August 18.

Mali has given me everything. I am happy to be its submissive slave, willing to do everything for it to return to full constitutional legality, with elected authorities, legitimate representatives,” the 70-year-old retired colonel and former defence minister said.

He added: “The transition period which begins will not dispute any international undertaking by Mali, nor the agreements signed by the government.”

He vowed to continue a “merciless war” against “terrorist forces and organised crime,” and called for a moment of silence to honour fallen troops — Malians, French and UN.

His deputy is Assimi Goita who led the military putsch which was sparked by months of anti-government protests.

Mali is locked in a bitter war with Islamist insurgents for the eighth year running.

The swearing-in ceremony in the capital Bamako was attended by Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Embalo, and former Nigerian leader and regional mediator Goodluck Jonathan.

The inauguration comes after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded that Mali “immediately” appoint two civilians to lead the volatile nation after the recent coup.

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