Mali’s new PM in talks to form govt

April 07, 2014 - 8:11:04 am

BAMAKO: Mali’s new prime minister was in talks yesterday to appoint a government to lead the west African nation’s post-war recovery after the surprise resignation of his predecessor and the entire cabinet.

Former planning minister Moussa Mara, 39, was promoted to the premiership on Saturday after Mali’s first post-war prime minister Oumar Tatam Ly quit just six months into office, a statement from the presidency said.

“Moussa Mara is engaged in consultations for the formation of the new government,” an aide said, adding that the new cabinet would likely be made public within a week.

President Ibrahima Boubacar Keita’s office gave no reason for the resignation of Ly and his ministers, but it emerged on Sunday that the prime minister had become frustrated over being unable to enact reforms in the administration.

Ly, 50, said in his resignation letter, that he had been unable to convince Keita to act on “the inefficiencies and inadequacies that I found in the running of government that greatly reduce its ability to meet challenges”. 

“Accordingly, in consideration of these differing views which make the mission you have entrusted to me untenable, I am sorry to present my resignation as prime minister,” Ly wrote. 

A source close to Ly said he had “insistently, since early March, brought to Keita’s attention the need not only to restructure the government team, but also to change old habits in the running of Mali”.

“When you are in charge of running a government, you need your hands free to work. If this is no longer the case, you have to draw your own conclusions and that is what that Ly has done,” another close aide said.

The press in Bamako suggested that tensions between the two men had been exacerbated by the fact that Ly felt undermined by the president’s son, Karim Keita, the deputy leader of the national assembly.

Keita appointed Ly, a leading economist but a surprise choice to many, after his inauguration in September last year, with Mali looking to set up a government that would turn the page on months of political chaos and war.

Mara, active in Bamako and then national politics since his late 20s, was a losing candidate in the August election, garnering 1.5 percent of the vote as president of Yelema — “change” in Mali’s Bambara language — a party he founded in 2010.

One of Mara’s top priorities will be to make good on the president’s pledge when he was inaugurated last September to unite Mali, get the economy back on track and end endemic corruption.

Keita’s landslide victory in the first presidential polls since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4bn  in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of Mali’s 2012 coup.

Army officers angry at the level of support they had received to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in Mali’s vast desert north overthrew the democratically elected government of president Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22, 2012. AFP

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