Lawmakers in Mali have elected a little known politician with family ties to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to head the West African nation’s parliament.
Issiaka Sidibe, a 68-year-old retired customs inspector, secured 115 votes from a total 147 to claim the position, which would see him assume the presidency if Keita dies or is incapacitated while in office.
Sidibe served in parliament from 2002 to 2007 – a period during which Keita headed the legislative body – but he remains a relative unknown on Mali’s political scene. His daughter is married to the president’s son, Karim Keita, who is also a member of parliament.
Mali descended into chaos in March 2012 after soldiers deposed President Amadou Toumani Toure, creating a power vacuum that allowed al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters to seize the desert north.
France launched a military intervention against the Islamists a year ago, pushing them out of northern cities.
Nigeria also sent its peacekeeping forces to Mali to help restore peace.