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Keita sworn in as Mali's new president

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was sworn in on Wednesday as Mali's new president after winning a landslide victory in elections called to turn the page on months of political chaos and conflict. Keita, a former prime minister, vowed to work for African unity as he began his five-year term in the presence of outgoing transitional leader Dioncounda Traore and more than 1,000 Malian politicians, diplomats and military personnel at a ceremony in the capital Bamako.

Mali coup leader removed as head of military reform

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali's interim government has removed General Amadou Sanogo, who led a coup last year, as head of a military committee tasked with reforming the West African country's armed forces, a government statement said. The removal gives a clean slate to president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, elected by a landslide in an August 11 runoff. Sanogo had remained influential behind the scenes after the March 2012 coup which plunged Mali into crisis.

Mali state of emergency lifted ahead of election

By Tiemoko Diallo BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali has lifted its state of emergency to allow campaigning for a presidential election being held on July 28 after a French-led offensive to drive Islamist militants from the West African country. But attacks on U.N. peacekeepers in a former rebel stronghold on Saturday underlined the continuing insecurity in the Sahara Desert north.

French first lady tells of 'huge' feelings for Mali

France's first lady Valerie Trierweiler said at the end of a 48-hour tour of war-torn Mali on Friday that the experience had brought up "huge" feelings in her. President Francois Hollande's partner, in the former French colony as "part of a mission for children and women", has visited hospital patients and school children, highlighting the important role of female soldiers in securing peace. "I'll never forget (this trip) because what I felt was truly huge," she told a press conference before returning to Paris on Friday night.

France's first lady visits Mali's war-torn north

France's first lady Valerie Trierweiler began a tour of Mali on Thursday with a visit to Gao, one of several northern cities liberated by a French-led military operation against an Islamist occupation. President Francois Hollande's partner, on a 48-hour trip as "part of a mission for children and women", highlighted the role of female soldiers in securing the north for the former French colony as part of Operation Serval.

France's first lady arrives in Mali

France's first lady Valerie Trierweiler arrived in Mali late Wednesday for a tour of the war-torn nation described as "part of a mission for children and women". Upon arrival at Bamako airport the partner of President Francois Hollande said her presence was "a very good symbol" as her husband and the Malian leader attended a donors conference in Brussels Wednesday. At the Brussels meeting, international donors pledged a bigger than expected 3.25 billion euros to help the former French colony recover after Islamist rebels nearly overran the troubled country.

Mali president will do utmost to ensure polls on July 28

Mali interim President Dioncounda Traore said Tuesday he will do his utmost to ensure that national elections, a key goal of the troubled country's backers, take place as planned on July 28. "We will do everything so that the elections can begin on July 28," Traore said, noting that he would be a candidate. "Failure to hold the elections would cause even more problems," he added. jri/aje/bmm/ric

CORRECTED: Mali President will do utmost to ensure polls on July 28

Mali interim President Dioncounda Traore said Tuesday he will do his utmost to ensure that national elections, a key goal of the troubled country's backers, take place as planned on July 28. "We will do everything so that the elections can begin on July 28,"Traore said, noting that he would not be a candidate. "Failure to hold the elections would cause even more problems," he added. jri/aje/bmm/mfp

Mali troops hunt for rebels after Timbuktu clash

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Malian troops searched house-to-house in Timbuktu on Monday morning following hours of fighting with Islamist rebels who had infiltrated the northern desert town. Residents said calm had returned by late Sunday after heavy clashes and airstrikes by French fighter jets backing the Malian troops forced them to shelter indoors. The fighting reflected the difficulty of securing Mali after a French intervention in January that pushed the rebels out of their northern strongholds.

German defence minister urges Mali troops to ensure security

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere on a visit to Mali Monday stressed that it was up to the Malian army to ensure security in the nation, after French and African troops have driven Islamist rebels out of their northern strongholds. "There will only be a good development of the situation, in a lasting way, if the Malian military forces themselves ensure security," he said after meeting with Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore. During his visit De Maiziere met with German soldiers deployed to support French and African troops fighting the Islamist extremists.
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