Mali’s interim legislature on Saturday chose Colonel Malick Diaw, a leading player in an August coup, as its president despite anger over the military’s increasing clout in politics.
The 121-seat National Transition Council met for its inaugural session in the capital Bamako. It is expected to play a crucial role in the Sahel state’s return to democratic rule.
Young army officers toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18 after weeks of anti-government protests sparked by his government’s failure to tackle a brutal jihadist insurgency and perceived corruption.
Under the threat of international sanctions, the officers between September and October handed power to a makeshift government, which is meant to rule for 18 months before staging elections.
But figures with army links dominate this body and anger over their prominent role and the slow speed of reforms is growing.
Coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita was named interim vice president and retired army colonel Bah Ndaw interim president.
Critics say it has taken far too long to establish the legislature, which is meant to draft a new constitution and pave the way for elections within a short time frame.
The transition council elected Diaw as its president unopposed with 111 votes in his favour, journalists said.
Members of the defence and security forces have 22 seats in the transition council, while political parties, civil-society groups and trade unions also have seats.
“This is an important stage in the ongoing transition,” said Hamadoun Amion Guindo, a trade union leader and member of the council.