Keita to reunite Mali after rival concedes
By Stephane Barbier, AFPBAMAKO--Mali's President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita began the daunting task Tuesday of planning the country's recovery from political crisis, a military coup and war after his rival conceded defeat at the polls.
August 14, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Official results from the nationwide vote have not been announced, but Somaila Cisse congratulated Keita on his victory late Monday after electoral sources revealed that the former premier was comfortably ahead with two-thirds of Sunday's votes counted.
“I went to see him to congratulate him and wish him good luck for Mali,” Cisse told AFP.
Mali's first election since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than US$4 billion pledged by international donors who halted aid in the wake of last year's coup, which ignited an Islamist insurgency and a French military offensive.
The government has until Friday to make public the result of the runoff vote, called after none of the 27 candidates in the first round on July 28 secured an outright majority.
But a source close to Mali's election commission told AFP that with nearly two-thirds of the ballots counted, Keita was “well ahead,” while unofficial estimates obtained by AFP from Malian security sources also put the 68-year-old in the lead.
One of Cisse's aides told AFP that the former finance minister had decided to admit defeat after it became apparent that victory was out of his grasp as early as Monday morning.
Keita has become known for his blunt speech, his refusal to compromise and his reputation for toughness.
During his campaign, he vowed to unify Mali after its humiliation in having to call on former colonial power France to help repel the Islamist insurgency in the north, where al-Qaida-linked movements seized key towns.
“For Mali's honor, I will bring peace and security. I will revive dialogue between all the sons of our nation and I will gather our people around the values that have built our history: dignity, integrity, courage and hard work,” Keita has said.
Cisse had complained of widespread electoral fraud hours before conceding his loss, but the European Union's election observation mission gave a positive assessment of the vote, saying it complied with international standards in “99 percent” of polling stations.
“Whoever is elected will be elected with democratic legitimacy. That is my belief,” mission chief Louis Michel told reporters in Bamako, adding that there had been “a leap forward in terms of democracy in this country.”