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New government appointed in Mali

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Mali's new government hs 31 ministers, including five close allies of coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo (AP)

Mali's new government hs 31 ministers, including five close allies of coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo (AP)

Mali's new government hs 31 ministers, including five close allies of coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo (AP)

Mali's interim leaders have announced a new government, months after a military coup unleashed political chaos that allowed an Islamist takeover of the north and forced nearly half a million people to flee their homes.

The government has 31 ministers, including five who are viewed as close to coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, who nominally handed over power to a civilian interim government months ago but still has not completely relinquished control.

None of the ministers in the new government are closely linked to the democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Toure who was ousted in March, according to the list announced on state television.

West African regional leaders had threatened to expel Mali from the regional bloc and impose sanctions if the country failed to assemble a unity government as promised.

Mali's interim leaders already had missed an August 10 deadline for doing so, raising concerns about the fate of the country's political transition at a time when rumours also swirled about the interim prime minister's ties to the coup leader.

Critics wanted Mali's unity government formed as soon as possible in hopes it can better fight radical Islamists who now rule the country's vast north, an area the size of France.

The militants have solidified their hold amid the power vacuum in Bamako - even stoning to death an adulterous couple and chopping off the hand of a suspected thief in their quest to implement a strict version of Shariah, or Islamic law.

"I hope the new government together will make the liberation of the north its number one priority," said Malian civil society leader Aboubacrine Assadek Ag Hamatta.

Mutinous soldiers staged their March 21 coup just months before the country was to hold elections, driving the country's democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Toure into exile not long before he was due to step down anyway.

Mali's crisis has displaced an estimated 435,624 people from their homes, with more than half of them fleeing to neighbouring countries, according to the United Nations.

PA


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