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The mystery is partly raised. In part only. Nine months after leaving military operations in central Mali to burst onto the political scene in Bamako, Assimi Goïta has so far remained an enigma.
The personality as well as the ambitions of the man who led the coup against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (“IBK”) in August 2020, remained largely hidden. The neck warmer supposed to protect him from Covid-19 seems to have become his best communication tool. The ideal instrument to maintain silence and therefore maintain questions.
The functions of vice-president, in charge of defense and security questions, which were assigned to him a month after the putsch of August 18 did not make the special forces officer more verbose, nor situated his intentions for the to come up. However, the last few days have unveiled his method of managing political conflicts and confirmed the stranglehold that he and his coup partners intend to retain over the transition period initiated after the overthrow of IBK.
The mask fell on May 24 after the officialization of a cabinet reshuffle, sidelining Colonels Sadio Camara and Modibo Koné, two of the ministers who had participated in the coup by his side. On the pretext that he had not been consulted beforehand, “A violation of the transition charter” According to him, Assimi Goïta then had President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane arrested and then forced to resign, both appointed to give a civilian touch to this eighteen-month interval leading to new elections .
So here he is at 38 years old in full light. A second time. But this new pronunciamiento in less than a year exposes it to the fire of criticisms and sanctions. In August 2020, the countries of the region, African authorities and Western partners, including France, past the ranting of circumstances, had welcomed with relative benevolence the military coup against a power at the end of the line.
The rue de Bamako applauded these five officers who claimed to have ” taken [leurs] responsibilities ” to put an end to ” the anarchy “ and to “Insecurity”. The regional mediators had just had to remind Colonel Goïta that the head of the transition was forbidden to him, that he could not replace the president whom he had however largely chosen and that an express retirement did not make any difference. him an acceptable civilian to rule the country.
“The first time, we made sure to contain it. But, there, no president of the region can accept this new coup. Bah N’Daw may have made a mistake in carrying out this reshuffle, but Goïta has no argument to dismiss him ”, says the sherpa of a West African head of state. According to him, “The absence of condemnation of the putsch in Chad surely incited him to act but, there, a turn of screw is necessary so that the system is locked until the end of the transition ”.
After the wave of international condemnations (African Union, European Union, United States, France), the meeting of heads of state of the region, scheduled for Sunday, May 30 in Ghana, could prove to be decisive. The main threats for Mali are a closure of the land borders, essential for the supply of this landlocked country, and of the central bank by the West African Economic and Monetary Union, which would economically suffocate the regime, but also the population.
Calm, austere, discreet
Under pressure, the entourage of the one who de facto occupies the head of state for the second time pleads for patience and indulgence. “Assimi Goïta assumes the functions of president while waiting for a new president to be appointed. We still cannot leave the country without a head ”, one of his advisers advances. Until when ?
Renowned calm, austere, as discreet as the head of the 2012 putsch – Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo – was whimsical, Assimi Goïta, who has never left his combat fatigues and enjoys being on stage alongside the troop, can still rely on the apparent support of the military.
No movement has so far been noted to resist this second coup. It must be said that it has been well served in recent months. The appointments of high-ranking officers to the posts of governor, director of a public institution have indeed given the feeling to a good number of Malians that the military monopolizes all the levers of power.
Perhaps ” prisoner “ of those who have placed him in the spotlight as several sources who have approached him in recent weeks think, Assimi Goïta, “Pure operational”, “The man on the ground”, always surrounded by his soldiers from the Autonomous Special Forces Battalion, has now become a full-fledged political actor.
His admiration for the legendary Burkinabe captain Thomas Sankara, his meetings with the charismatic Ghanaian Jerry Rawlings could give rise to ambitions outside the military field for the future. Unless it is already too late and this second blow was too much for him.