Malian Interim President Dioncounda Traore has formed a national unity government in an attempt to bring stability to a country split in two after Islamists seized northern regions following a coup.
The west African nation has been in crisis since March, when democratically elected former president Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown by the military, who two weeks later handed over power to a transitional administration.
The ensuing political turmoil allowed Islamist rebels to wrest control of the northern desert regions.
The national unity government announced by presidential decree on Monday has 31 ministers of almost all political shades, including four women.
Tieman Coulibaly, a member of the anti-coup Front for Democracy and the Republic (FDR) party, becomes foreign minister under controversial Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra.
The new administration also includes a new ministry of religious affairs, headed by Yacouba Traore.
Among those reappointed are three military members seen as close to the former junta: Malian Defense Minister Colonel Yamoussa Camara, Malian Security Minister General Tiefing Konate and Malian Minister for Territorial Administration Colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly. Malian Justice Minister Malick Coulibaly and Malian Health Minister Soumana Makadji were also reappointed.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has proposed sending an intervention force to Mali to help the weak transitional government, ordered Bamako to form a government of national unity by July 31 that would be able to reconquer the north.
The ultimatum was later extended. ECOWAS also warned Bamako it could be expelled from the group.
With the country split in two, political parties including Traore’s had called for Diarra’s ouster.
However, on Aug. 13 Traore “renewed his confidence” in Diarra and asked him to make proposals on forming a government of national unity, after consultations by Traore with the country’s “civil society,” including political parties and the junta.
The communication ministry will be taken over by Bruno Maiga, a junior minister in the previous administration formed on April 24.