Reuters Africa

By Adama Diarra

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, announced the creation of a number of new top-level government positions on Sunday in a shake-up of a transitional team heavily criticised for failing to tackle the country’s twin crises.

Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore (C) arrives at the main airport in the capital Bamako, July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Adama Diarra

The West African nation, once seen as a rare stable democracy in a tumultuous region, has been split in two since a

coup on March 22 paved the way for a military advance by northern separatists and al Qaeda-linked Islamists.

Traore was named interim president as part of a deal that saw a military junta return leadership of the country to civilian authorities. A transitional government was formed under Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, a former NASA astrophysicist and political novice, to usher Mali to elections and reconquer the north.

But, three months on, crippled by internal bickering, it has achieved little.

Traore has spent much of his short tenure in France recovering from injuries he sustained in May when a pro-coup mob broke into his offices and beat him up. He only returned to Mali on Friday.

In a speech broadcast on state television on Sunday night, he called on Malians to forgive one another and unite behind efforts to end the political crisis in the south and reunify the country.  Read more…