Mali: who is Choguel Kokalla Maïga, Prime Minister of the transition?

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The new transitional Prime Minister in Mali, Choguel Kokalla Maïga, is described as a “political animal” with a winding course. He has just been called by the new president of the transition, Colonel Assimi Goïta, whom he criticized until recently to lead the government of a battered country. Aged 63, Choguel Kokalla Maïga was appointed this Monday by presidential decree by Colonel Assimi Goïta, himself invested head of state a few hours earlier, two weeks after his second coup in nine months. With a group of colonels, Assimi Goïta first overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on August 18, 2020, then on May 24 he dismissed the president and the Prime Minister from the transition supposed to bring civilians back to power in early 2022.

A major and divisive political actor

With a career spanning more than 30 years, Choguel Kokalla Maïga is a “political animal”, a “divisive” personality, but also, “whether we like it or not, a strategist”, considers the editor of the site Malian information Benbere, Bokar Sangaré. From a former supporter of the dictator Moussa Traoré (1968-1991), to an ally of the military today, Choguel Kokalla Maïga will also have supported and been the minister of President Keïta before becoming a virulent detractor.

After studying telecommunications in the Soviet Union in the 1970s, he held various positions at the Société des telecommunications du Mali (Sotelma). He began in politics within the formation of Moussa Traoré and, after the overthrow of the dictator by a popular movement in 1991, he claimed to be the reverse of a vast majority of the political class today of his heritage. .

For 20 years, Choguel Maïga has been involved in all power struggles, often on the margins: presidential candidate in 2002, 2013 and 2018, he only receives between 2 and 3% of the vote. In the meantime, he supported President Amadou Toumani Touré (2002-2012), of which he was Minister of Industry. In 2013, he rallied in the second round to Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (“IBK”), of which he was the Minister of Communication from 2015 to 2016, before anchoring himself in the opposition. “He never digested the fact of having been sidelined by IBK,” said an African diplomat.

A delicate and urgent mission

In recent years, Choguel Kokalla Maïga has also regularly criticized the peace agreement signed in 2015 between the former northern rebellion and the pro-Bamako camp, the application of which remains very partial. The new Prime Minister will have in a very short period of time the delicate task of forming a new government team as consensual as possible, he who was rather versed in recent years in small murderous sentences towards power. Choguel Maïga must under work on a precise program with the National Transition Council (CNT), the legislative body of the Transition which he called for, there is still little dissolution.

The new head of government is a figure of the Mouvement du 5-Juin / Rassemblement des forces patriotiques (M5-RFP), a motley coalition of political opponents, religious leaders and members of civil society, which orchestrated the protest in 2020. against President Keïta, completed by the putsch. Marginalized by the junta and kept away from the organs of the transition for months, the M5-RFP, led by Choguel Maïga, then directed its arrows against Colonel Goïta and his group of officers, the real holders of power.

In December, he described the institutions of the transition as a “disguised military regime”. But five months later, Assimi Goïta’s proposal to grant the post of Prime Minister to the M5-RFP went “straight to the heart”, he confided after the second coup d’état, even if it meant being stand out from the M5-RFP. Even before taking up his new functions, he sought to reassure the signatories of this agreement and Mali’s partners, affirming that his country would respect its international commitments, while warning that “invectives, sanctions, threats will that complicate the situation ”. As opponent, Choguel Kokalla Maïga called for a “total change of the system” and a “re-foundation of the State”. He will finally be able to “get to work”, but it remains to be seen whether he “will have free rein” against the military, believes political scientist Boubacar Haïdara.

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