Mali’s re-elected Keita sworn in as peacekeeper wounded


Re-elected Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita vowed Tuesday to restore peace to the troubled north of the Saharan country hours after a UN peacekeeper was injured there in a jihadist rocket attack.

“I will be implacable against all those who affront our values of freedom and tolerance,” Keita, 73, said as he took the oath of office at a ceremony in the capital Bamako.

“Nothing will trample the will of a people united against terrorism,” Keita said, adding that he would make “the return of peace and security an absolute priority”.

The UN peacekeeper was injured in an attack in the northern town of Menaka, officials said, without giving his nationality.

Keita won 67 percent of the vote against runner-up Soumaila Cisse, a former finance minister, who scored nearly 33 percent in a hard-fought runoff on August 12.

His re-election came despite fierce criticism of failures to tackle jihadist violence and ethnic tensions that have rocked the poor Sahel state.

Keita’s major challenge as he starts his second term will be to strengthen a 2015 peace accord between the government, government-allied groups and former Tuareg rebels that the government sees as a cornerstone of peace.

The implementation of the peace accord has suffered many setback and failed to prevent the violence from spreading from north to central Mali and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The Cisse camp on Tuesday held a rally of “thousands” of people in Bamako, according to organisers, to stress that they do not recognise Keita’s presidency.

“I will never betray those thousands of people who have made the trip today,” Cisse said at the end of the event.

“Fraudulent elections have never delivered a democratically elected president. We do not recognise the election of the person who took the oath today,” he added.

His supporters brought cases to Mali’s courts, including the supreme court, seeking to nullify the election results “due to violation of the law,” according to a text seen by AFP.

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