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World

Mali's Assimi Goita: special ops commander turned strongman

  • Then 37, Goita said in a public address following the coup: "We no longer have the right to make mistakes."
07 Jun 2021

BAMAKO: Colonel Assimi Goita, who led a coup in Mali last year, is set to be sworn in as president Monday after a second military power grab in the war-torn Sahel state.

Last month, soldiers detained the president and prime minister of an interim government installed in the wake of a coup in August, provoking diplomatic uproar.

The military released the pair days later but stripped them of their powers.

According to diplomats and army officials, Goita has taken command.

But the young military officer, a former special forces commander who has shunned the limelight since arriving on Mali's political scene, remains an enigma.

Few are confident about what his motivations are, or his ultimate goals.

Once a relative unknown, Goita burst onto the political stage on August 18 when he launched a coup against elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, after weeks of mass protests over perceived corruption and his failure to end Mali's jihadist insurgency.

Then 37, Goita said in a public address following the coup: "We no longer have the right to make mistakes."

Cutting a martial figure in fatigues with a khaki shemagh scarf around his neck, Goita has been seen in public since then, but has rarely spoken.