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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid