Sanogo to head army reform committee
14 February 2013, 11:43
Bamako - The leader of a March coup that ousted Mali's
government, exacerbating a crisis in which Islamist rebels went on to seize
over half the country, was sworn in Wednesday as head of a military reform
Captain Amadou Sanogo was sworn in to the new post, created
for him as an incentive to accept a transitional government tasked with
steering the country to elections, by interim President Dioncounda Traore in a
ceremony at the presidency.
"This military committee is not political and is not
about replacing the military chain of command. It is adhering to its mission of
following the planned reforms in close collaboration with other
structures," said Sanogo, a former army English instructor who received
military training in the United States.
"Captain Sanogo was the one chosen to make this
committee work because of his personal qualities," Traore said.
"He's a trainer. That's his job. He knows how to manage
a team and will work to put in place an army that performs."
Sanogo's new post comes with living quarters at the army
chief of staff's offices in Bamako - an arrangement political and military
sources said was a bid to lure him away from his loyalists in the garrison town
of Kati, where he and the rest of his junta had set up headquarters.
Sanogo led a group of fellow mid-level officers to overthrow
then-president Amadou Toumani Toure on 22 March, accusing him of letting
separatist rebels humiliate the Malian army.
The coup upended what had been considered one of west
Africa's most stable democracies.
Sanogo styled himself a Malian Charles de Gaulle, promising
to rescue the country.
Under pressure from regional mediators, he grudgingly handed
power to the interim government on 13 April.
But he continued to pull strings behind the scenes, notably
by forcing interim prime minister Cheick Modibo Diarra to resign by ordering
Amid the disarray in the capital Bamako, Islamist extremists
hijacked the independence rebellion and seized the country's vast desert north,
implementing a brutal form of sharia.
With Mali's collapsing army powerless to stop them, interim
leader Traore made a plea for help, and Mali's former colonial ruler France
launched a military intervention on 11 January.
The French-led operation has forced the Islamists from the
towns they controlled.
But the insurgents have continued attacking reclaimed
territory with suicide bombings and guerrilla assaults.
The Malian army also continues to be deeply divided.
On Friday, a gunfight broke out between paratroopers loyal
to ousted president Toure and other units loyal to Sanogo, killing two
The violence erupted on the same day a first group of
European Union military instructors arrived to train the Malian army to deal
with the insurgents.