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US envisions return of Mali aid after election

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United States signaled Monday that it was prepared to resume aid to Mali following a presidential election that paved the way for the return of a democratically elected government.

Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman at the State Department, hailed the strife-torn country's interim government for "securing a peaceful and orderly environment in which Malians were able to vote."

Former Malian finance minister Soumaila Cisse has conceded defeat against ex-prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The vote was aimed at providing a fresh start for the west African nation following more than a year of political turmoil, including a military coup and war.

While urging patience in the formal ballot-counting process in the run-off between the top two contenders, Harf suggested that a resumption of US aid was likely.

"We've made clear that following the return of a democratically elected government, we will seek to normalize our foreign assistance to Mali," she told reporters in Washington.

"These programs will be reviewed and revised to assess the security and development needs in the light of the new environment."

The election, the first since 2007, was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion (three billion euros) in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

The coup ignited an Islamist insurgency that seized power in the north before being driven out by a French military intervention.

Mali's government has until Friday to make public the result of the run-off, called after none of the 27 candidates secured an outright majority in the first round, held July 28.

The United States was legally forced to suspend military aid to Mali after the coup in March last year.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130813/us-envisions-return-mali-aid-after-election