All set for Mali president's inauguration

2013-09-18 10:51
File: AFP

File: AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bamako - Leaders from Morocco to Gabon will cheer on the inauguration of Mali's new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Thursday in a show of African unity as Mali enters a new era of democracy after months of political chaos.

But in many ways the ceremony at the 55 000-seat March 26 Stadium in the capital Bamako will hold most significance for France - drawing a line under what has been viewed as one of the more successful foreign interventions by a Western power in recent decades.

Idriss Deby of Chad, the Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara and Moroccan king Mohammed VI are prominent guests among 26 heads of state invited to welcome Mali's new leader, elected by a landslide on 11 August, and enjoy military parades and cultural displays.

But a place of honour will be reserved for French President Francois Hollande, who launched a military action in January, aided by African troops, which ousted Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda who occupied northern Mali last year.

"For many Malians and indeed for the international community the conduct of a violence-free election was always a far more desirable outcome than ensuring electoral due process and fairness and in this respect, the peaceful conclusion of the election was sufficient to label the whole exercise a 'success'," said Manji Cheto, a London-based analyst with the Africa Practice think-tank in a recent blog post.

France's engagement in Mali, however, is more nuanced and less straightforward than a simple mission to free the former colony from the clutches of Islamism, and in many senses Thursday's ceremony marks a beginning rather than an end to French involvement.

"Given French strategic interests in the region - from uranium mining, or oil and gas exploration by French companies in the Sahel, the prospects of oil exploration in northern Mali itself, and protecting France's broader political interests in west Africa - it would reasonable to assume that Paris had never intended the troop withdrawal to mark an end to its engagement in Mali," Cheto said.

Although France never officially backed a candidate in the presidential election, most analysts in Bamako believed it was cheering on Keita's rival Soumaila Cisse, a committed "Francophile".

International donors

Now Paris will be relying on its second choice to forward its interests in the region by making good on his pledge when he was sworn in on 4 September to unite Mali and end endemic corruption in the deeply-divided west African nation.

"I want to reconcile hearts and minds, restore true brotherhood between us so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony," Keita, 68, said.

Keita's election in the first presidential polls since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4bn in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

The return to democracy has been praised by Hollande, who will be accompanied by four senior ministers and is expected to hold talks with Keita on security, reconciliation, economic recovery and the fight against corruption.

The ever-present issue of instability was thrown into sharp relief on Sunday when youths affiliated to Mali's main Tuareg separatist group tried to prevent a plane carrying three ministers from landing in their northern bastion of Kidal, throwing rocks at their convoy.

The attack followed and exchange of gunfire between the Malian army and "bandits", during security operations near the Mauritanian border last week which left two soldiers wounded, according to security sources.

The incidents "came as a useful reminder that, in the coming weeks, the authorities will have to deal with people who have in the past demonstrated unpredictable behaviour and did not hesitate to openly play one-upmanship", said analyst Gaoussou Drabo in a commentary for the national daily newspaper L'Essor (Progress).

He warned that the "excessive behaviour" demonstrated by marginalised populations in the north could well spill over into a more general violent discontent unless Keita urgently addressed the flagging economy and the poverty experienced by ordinary Malians.

Read more on:    francois hollande  |  ibrahim boubacar keita  |  morocco  |  france  |  gabon  |  mali  |  north africa  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R3565.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.