Mali's interim president, Bah Ndaw, chosen to head a transitional government following a coup last month, was sworn in during ceremonies in the capital Bamako on Friday, AFP journalists witnessed.
A committee appointed by the military junta that seized power on August 18, toppling president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, selected Ndaw, a 70-year-old retired colonel, as interim president.
Ndaw is due to lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.
In a speech, Ndaw said he would strive for "a stable, calm and successful transition, in the agreed conditions and timeframe".
"Mali has given me everything. I am happy to be its submissive slave, willing to do everything for it to return to full constitutional legality, with elected authorities and legitimate representatives," he declared.
The former defence minister also promised to uphold Mali's international commitments: "The transition period which begins will not dispute any international undertaking by Mali, nor the agreements signed by the government."
He also promised to continue a "merciless war" against "terrorist forces and organised crime" and called for a moment of silence to honour fallen troops – Malians, French and UN.
ECOWAS to maintain sanctions
West African states will uphold sanctions on Mali until it appoints a civilian prime minister, the leader of the ECOWAS regional bloc leader said on Friday.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) slapped sanctions on Mali after the coup.
The sanctions "will be lifted when a civilian prime minister is named", said ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.
Military junta leader as vice president
Colonel Assimi Goita, who led Mali's military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.
The ceremony on Friday took place in a theatre filled with officials dressed in military fatigues, senior judges and foreign diplomats.
During the ceremony, Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Boya Dembele said the challenges facing both men were "enormous".
"It will truly require a reformulation of the state," said the judge, dressed in red, fur-lined robes.
Last month's coup followed weeks of mass protests against Keita, spurred by frustrations over a brutal jihadist conflict, perceived corruption and the country's slumping economy.
Mali has struggled to quell an eight-year-old Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)