Bamako - Mali's president on Thursday handed the premiership to the outgoing transport minister, a 58-year-old economist with a reputation as a hard worker, and charged him with forming a new government.

After his nomination was read on state television, Ousmane Issoufi Maiga pledged to implement President Amadou Toumani Toure's vision for West Africa's biggest cotton exporter.

"My priorities are the priorities of the president," he declared. "The model he wants to develop for Mali consists of assuring the well-being of all Malians, it is a model of good governance so that all Malians can feel secure."

The previous prime minister, Ahmed Mohamed Ag Hamani, and his cabinet resigned on Wednesday at Toure's request. The old government had been in office since October 2002 and Toure wanted a team with fresh energy, a presidential spokesperson said.

Maiga is widely known as a disciplinarian who does not tolerate lateness. He has been jokingly nicknamed "Pinochet" in reference to Chile's former dictator.

The premier, who has a doctorate in economics and development banking from the American University of Washington, vowed to name a new cabinet quickly.

Toure is a former soldier who toppled a dictatorship in 1991 and then won praise at home and abroad for stepping down after elections a year later, ushering in multiparty politics. He won the presidency in an election in May 2002.