The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has congratulated Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for his victory in Mali’s presidential run-off election on Sunday.
“We congratulate him for a hard-won victory. We also congratulate Malians for their confidence in the validity of the ballot box,” said Sonny Ugoh, ECOWAS communication director. “The challenge that he [Keita] confronts is now to rebuild national cohesion, and see how he can pull the people of Mali together to address the challenges that confront the country -- security, national economic reconstruction and the building of the confidence of the people once again.”
Both ECOWAS and the African Union’s (AU), as well as other international and local poll observer groups, described the election as peaceful, transparent and credible.
Ugoh says the presidential run-off vote forms part of the regional bloc’s effort to entrench democracy in West Africa.
“What they have done is consistent with our instrument regarding democracy and good governance,” continued Ugoh, “and we hope that they can work together to support their government to address the challenges of rebuilding the confidence of the people in the country as an indivisible Mali that responds to the yearnings of all their citizens.”
Some Malians say that despite the peaceful election, tensions remain in parts of the north where Islamic militants had been in control.
Ugoh said ECOWAS is working with the United Nations-led troops in the country to strengthen security and ensure Mali maintains its territorial integrity.
“You can be sure that we will play our role within the U.N. mandate in ensuring that security challenges that confront Mali are addressed within the U.N. framework,” said Ugoh. “You can also be sure that as neighbors and members of the same regional community working to promote the integration of the citizens of West Africa that we will continue to remain engaged with Mali until all these problems are resolved.”
Mali was often cited as a model of stable democracy in West Africa before the overthrow of President Amadou Toumani Toure, which analysts say cleared the way for Islamic militants to seize control of some of the northern parts of the country.
Ugoh said the peaceful election could be a first step in restoring international confidence in Mali’s drive toward strengthening democracy.
“Indeed by voting, they have re-established their credential as a strong democracy in West Africa,” said Ugoh. “We urge the people of Mali to subordinate their individual and narrow interest to the greater interest of their country so that working together they can come out better and the people of Mali will be the winner.”