News / Africa

Mali's President-elect Faces Hefty Challenges

Mali's President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks at a news conference in Bamako, Aug. 21, 2013.
Mali's President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks at a news conference in Bamako, Aug. 21, 2013.
Anne Look
Mali's president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita says he will reconcile, reunite and rebuild the country after 18 months of crisis and conflict. Keita doesn't take office for another two weeks, but his to-do list is already long and Malians are eager for results. 

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes office September 4th on a tidal wave of popularity.

The one-time prime minister and former president of the National Assembly won the August 11th run-off election with 77 percent of votes.

In his first public declaration as president-elect, Keita said he would be the "president of all Malians."

"I will be the president of national reconciliation.  This reconciliation is necessary to deal with the demands of our people: to rebuild the state and the rule of law, to fix the army and the education system, to fight corruption and to foster economic and social development.  I will be the president to rebuild the nation," said the president-elect.

Keita said Wednesday that it would be a "new era."  Even so, he is inheriting some hefty problems.

A Tuareg rebellion that began in January 2012 is still rumbling in the far north.  Mali is now host to a massive U.N. mission to stabilize the north after a nine-month occupation by armed extremist groups who tried to set up their version of an Islamic state. 

The leaders of the March 2012 military coup are still lurking around the foreground in Bamako.  One of the final acts of the interim government was to promote coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to the rank of general. 

Keita won the presidency thanks to a large and complex web of support from Muslim religious leaders, the military and most of his first-round rivals.  His campaign always maintained that Keita was not cutting deals in exchange for votes.

But analysts said it could be difficult to manage all those alliances once in office.  Malians are watching closely to see who Keita names to his cabinet.

Keita said Wednesday his government would be a meritocracy, not one guided by political or family alliances.

"Let me be clear.  There is no question of sharing out the cake.  I have not promised that and it will not happen," he said.
But actions speak louder than words, even the tough talk that Keita is known for. When asked what the country needed, voters often used the French verb "assainir," which means to flush out, to decontaminate, to clean up.  They wanted to see Keita tackle the root causes of the crisis.

At the top of that list were the pervasive corruption and patronage that analysts said undermined development, crippled the army and ultimately handed the north over to criminal and terrorist groups.

Keita has pledged "zero tolerance" for corruption, but analysts say he must prove it, and fast, by doing what previous governments in Mali have not, by investigating and punishing those embezzling public resources.  Something analysts say could be a hard pill to swallow for some of his political allies.

Security is the other key challenge.

Keita will have 60 days to open up what promise to be difficult negotiations with armed Tuareg separatist group, the MNLA, and its allies in the far northern region of Kidal.  This Tuareg rebellion is the fourth of its kind since Mali became a country in 1960.  Many say it is up to Keita to make it the last.

Those negotiations will be just one part of returning security and state authority to the formerly occupied north, where violence has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and decimated the economy.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More