Bamako - Mali's first post-war prime minister began on Friday
the task of forming a government expected to deliver on promises by the
president to reunite a deeply divided nation and crack down on corruption.
Career technocrat Oumar Tatam Ly, made head of President
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's government on Thursday, took over from interim premier
Diango Cissoko at a ceremony in the capital Bamako before turning to the job of
picking his team of ministers.
"I am ready to meet the challenges and tasks that
have been assigned to me by the president," he said in a brief statement.
Ly has spent most of the last two decades as a central
bank functionary and is expected to rely on advisors, with more political
know-how while he chooses colleagues in a cabinet charged with returning
stability to a country upended by a military coup and Islamist insurgency last
He began consultations with potential ministers
immediately after being appointed on Thursday, his aides told AFP, although
none would reveal who was in consideration for the big portfolios.
Ly's appointment has been met with cautious approval in
the mainstream media, with daily newspaper Le Soir describing the 49-year-old
as "a choice in line with the wishes of Malians".
The reaction on social networks was mixed, with some
taking to Twitter to express doubts over the appointment of "an apolitical
prime minister in a very political period", as one critic wrote, while
others were more generous.
"The nomination of this man who has had a career
first will be a model for the youth of Mali and bodes well for a well-governed
Mali..." World Bank economist and Malian politician Madani Tall tweeted.
Who is Ly?
Born in Paris, Ly quickly became a promising academic,
gaining degrees in history and economics from a number of prestigious French
universities including the Sorbonne and Essec, one of Europe's top business
He began his career at the World Bank before moving via
the general secretariat of the president of Mali to the Central Bank of West
African States (BCEAO) in 1994, rising through the ranks to become national
director for Mali and then advisor to the governor.
While has never held high public office, Ly comes from a
family deeply involved in west African politics and is considered a close
confidant of Keita.
His father was the late novelist and political activist
Ibrahima Ly, who fled Mali after being jailed and allegedly tortured under the
regime of military dictator Moussa Traore.
Ly's main task in the months ahead will be to deliver on
the president's pledge when he was sworn in on Wednesday to unite Mali and end
But his daunting in-tray will also include tackling an
economy battered by conflict, as well as healing ethnic divisions in the north
and managing the return of 500 000 people who fled the Islamist insurgency.
Army officers angry at what they considered a lack of
support to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in Mali's vast desert north
overthrew the democratically elected government of president Amadou Toumani
Toure on 22 March 2012.
In the chaos that followed, the Tuaregs seized control of
an area larger than France before being ousted by al-Qaeda-linked groups who
imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law on the local population,
carrying out amputations and executions.
Their actions drew worldwide condemnation and prompted
France to launch a military offensive at Mali's behest to oust the Islamists in
The country's return to democracy has allowed France to
begin withdrawing about of the 4 500 troops it had sent in.