September 9, 2018 / 11:35 PM / 12 days ago

Mali's Keita names new defense and mines ministers for second term

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita named new defense, mines and foreign ministers on Sunday as he began his second five-year term presiding over a country ravaged by jihadist and inter-ethnic violence.

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita gestures during his presidential inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Annie Risemberg

Keita was sworn in last week after winning a landslide re-election despite escalating attacks by Islamist militants and clashes between herders and pastoralists that have killed hundreds of civilians this year.

The violence has spread to neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso, alarming Western powers like France and the United States, which have deployed troops and air power across the region’s sprawling desert landscape.

Keita maintained Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga as prime minister and most of the 33-member Cabinet was also unchanged, according to the announcement on state television.

His pick for defense minister, Tiemoko Sangare, was previously the mines minister.

Sangare’s predecessor as defense minister, Tiena Coulibaly, was moved to justice minister.

Lelenta Hawa Baba Bah was named the mines minister after having led the National Directorate of Geology and Mines. As minister, she will oversee the government’s bid to revise the mining code, potentially by reducing the length of operators’ exemptions from changes to the fiscal regime.

Mali is Africa’s third-largest gold producer behind South Africa and Ghana, with major investors including Randgold Resources Ltd and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.

Keita also named Kamissa Camara as his new foreign minister. She served previously as a foreign policy adviser to him at the presidency.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Peter Cooney

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