Mali has a new president, former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and the country is hoping it marks an end to over a year of turmoil.
In one of the first positive signs that the country has taken a step forward his defeated rival Soumalia Cisse abandoned his fraud claims and visited Keita to concede defeat and offer his congratulations.
The winner now has a strong mandate to reform and rebuild the divided nation.
“I thank my young friend for his visit, I am full of emotion for this visit to me and my family in the spirit of brotherhood,” said Keita.
Keita even won in the rebel north, Cisse’s stronghold, taking the main city Gao. France, which intervened last year when it appeared the country was on the brink of falling into the hands of Islamic extremists, congratulated the winner. President François Hollande promises to attend the inauguration.
A UN peacekeeping mission is now in place to ensure French military gains are not frittered away. Keita must now work quickly to end the regional inequalities that led to the Touareg rebellion in the north that opened the door for Islamists to exploit.
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