Junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita, announcing the appointment of former defence minister as interim leader, says he himself would serve as vice president of the transition government.

Mali's ruling junta has come under intense pressure from leaders of the Economic Community of West African States to return power to civilians following the August 18 coup that overthrew president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Mali's ruling junta has come under intense pressure from leaders of the Economic Community of West African States to return power to civilians following the August 18 coup that overthrew president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. (AFP)

Former Mali defence minister and retired colonel Bah Ndaw has been named interim president while the leader of the junta that seized power last month, Colonel Assimi Goita, has been appointed vice president, Goita said in a statement.

Ndaw and Goita were appointed by a group of 17 electors chosen by the junta to oversee an 18-month transition that will culminate in fresh elections. 

They will be sworn in on Friday, Goita said in brief remarks on state television.

READ MORE: ECOWAS urges Mali's junta to complete transition before Sept 23

Intense pressure

Mali's ruling junta has come under intense pressure from leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to return power to civilians following the August 18 coup that overthrew president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

It was unclear whether the arrangement would satisfy ECOWAS, which last week threatened to step up economic sanctions and impose a total embargo on landlocked Mali if its conditions were not met. 

An ECOWAS spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

The leaders, and Mali's partners such as France and the United States, are nervous the coup will set a dangerous precedent, and undermine a fight against militants across the Sahel region.

Regional leaders had demanded that the interim president be a civilian while signalling they would accept a soldier as vice president so long as he is ineligible to replace the president.

'Ba is an upright official'

Goita did not say whether the vice president would remain next-in-line to the presidency as stipulated in a transitional charter approved in a multi-party talks earlier this month.

Ndaw, Ndaw – whose name is also spelled Ba N'daou – served as defence minister under Keita and was an aide to Mali's former military ruler Moussa Traore.

Kaou N'Djim, a spokesman for influential Muslim cleric Mahmoud Dicko, who led mass protests against Keita before the coup, praised Ndaw's nomination.

"Ba is an upright official. He has never been implicated in matters of financial corruption," N'Djim told Reuters news agency.

READ MORE: West African bloc hopeful of seeing civilian leadership in Mali within days

Source: TRTWorld and agencies