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Assimi Goita: From obscurity to Mali’s new trendsetter

From relative obscurity to national prominence, the head of the military junta, which seized power in Mali earlier this week intends to correct the ills in his country, which is in a bad shape, but who is Assimi Goita?Colonel Assimi Goita, who is only 37 years of age, carries on his shoulders the expectations of a nation bedeviled by  security and socio-political challenges.

The  leader of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People  (CNSP), the military junta that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita  (IBK), hopes to be on the right side of history by leading Mali to a  smooth political transition.

In the  early hours of IBK’s fall, Assimi Goita appeared on national television  alongside four other colonels: Modibo Kone, Malick Diaw, Sadio Camara  and Ismael Wague, the CNSP spokesman. 

The new strongman in Bamako has insisted that the coup leaders “cannot afford to make mistakes”.

His father’s son

Assimi Goita is the son of an army officer. Very early on, he showed predispositions to follow in his father’s footsteps.

To  make his childhood dream come true, he joined in 1992, the Kati  military Prytanee in Kati, about 15 kilometers from the capital Bamako. 

After  this training as a rite of passage, Goita headed for the Koulikoro  Combined Military School where he specialized in armored weapons and  cavalry.

As a troop child, he very early stood out for his rigor, his tenacity and aptitude in command – strengths that will earn him several operations in northern and central Mali under his belt.

A good CV

In the early 2000s, Assimi Goita was assigned to the 134th Reconnaissance Squadron in Gao. 

In 2005, he joined the 123rdReconnaissance Squadron in Kidal and the same year graduated from the Train Application School.

His qualities as a leader propelled him to the rank of deputy squadron commander, a position he held until 2008. 

That same year, Goita graduated from the Captain’s Course in Germany.

This  inborn fighter continued his ascension by subsequently becoming the  commander of Battle Group N° 3, whose mission was to hunt down armed  terrorist groups and drug traffickers roaming the area near the border  with neighboring Algeria.

From 2011 to 2013, Goita led the 2ndSupport Company, then the 37th Transport Regiment. 

At  the end of several missions in Gao, Kidal, Menaka, Tessalit and even  Timbuktu, he decided to serve in the Special Forces decorated with the  certificate of Higher Military Education N° 1.

In 2015, he flew to Gabon where he continued his studies at the Staff School. 

Back  in Mali, he was appointed Staff Officer at the Combined Arms  Operational Center of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, then Head  of the Operations Division of the Army General Staff.

He later participated in the Counterterrorism Special Operations Course in Garmich, Germany and in Florida (United States). 

A  seasoned combatant, Colonel Goita was promoted, in November 2015, to  the position of Special Operations Coordinator at the Ministry of  Defense, following the terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in  Bamako.

Between 2016 and 2017, he commanded the operational unit of the Autonomous Battalion of Special Forces deployed in Sofara. 

And since July 2018, he has been in command of the Autonomous Battalion of Special Forces and Toughening Centers.

This elite unit often collaborates with US forces, especially in Flintlock exercises.

Married  and a father of three, Assimi Goita has been decorated many times: the  cross of military valor, the medal of military merit, the commemorative  campaign medal, the French Defense medal with Gold echelon and the  United Nations medal in Darfur.

Favorable wind

For  the moment, the ‘Mouvement du 5 Juin – Rassemblement des Forces  Patriotiques’ (M5-RFP), which has for several weeks been calling for the  departure of the former head of state, places its trust in Goita for  the restoration of constitutional order, with the organization of  general elections a highlight.

The  M5-RFP, made up of political activists, civil society and religious  actors, plans to celebrate “the victory of the Malian people,” this  weekend but will undoubtedly ensure respect for the pact sealed with the  military junta.

Last Wednesday, the  head of the CNSP met senior Malian officials at the Ministry of Defense  to “assure them of (his) support for the continuity of state services.”

However, it will take more to reassure the international community, which unanimously condemned his putsch.

 According to military sources, Assimi Goita was the main mastermind of the coup. 

However,  he has been at pains to impress upon Malians and the outside world that  he does not nurse any political ambition whatsoever.


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Published on 28.04.2020

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