BAMAKO, MALI - Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has been sworn in to a new five-year term in the presence of former rebels and several other personalities although the opposition continues to dispute his election win.
Keita, 73, was inaugurated Tuesday following his August 20 election victory, which was later confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
"I reach out to all those who want Mali to succeed, all who want to believe in this beautiful nation, without exception," said Keita in his inaugural speech.
Keita vowed to maintain a secular state and to strengthen national security against extremist violence by improving the training and equipping of the national army.
Since 2012, Mali has faced attacks by Islamic extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and Tuareg separatist rebels. In 2015, a fragile peace agreement was signed between the Malian government and separatist groups but attacks by Jihadist rebels have intensified and spread from the north to the center of the country.
Keita was first elected president in 2013, a year after a military coup that ushered in a period of chaos that allowed the extremists to control parts of northern Mali. French and Malian forces regained control of the urban centers in the north in 2013 but the rebels continue to launch attacks in the area.