Dioncounda Traore will be sworn in as Mali’s interim president on Thursday in a bid to pull the country back from the brink following a three-week-old military coup.
Traore was already a favourite to replace President Amadou Toumani Toure who was overthrown on March 22.
The coup’s aim was to push back a separate
rebellion in the north, amid accusations the military had insufficient resources. Instead Tuareg rebels
took key towns and declared an independent state of Azawad.
Extremist Islamist groups, allied with the Tuaregs now rule the towns of Timbuktu and Gao. They want to impose sharia law.
One religious leader said: “We’re here to thank the grace of God for the actions of the Jihadists. Since they’ve arrived, women are all covered and there are no more girls walking around nearly naked. No more alcohol and no more perversity. We are paying homage to that.”
Traore’s charged with organising elections within six weeks, a tall order when half the country is in the hands of the Tuaregs.