Ibrahim Boubacar Keita wins Mali presidential election

IBK supporters in Bamako on 11 August 2013 IBK supporters were confident of victory as counting began

Mali's presidential election has been won by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after his rival admitted defeat in the second round.

Ex-Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse said he had congratulated Mr Keita and wished him good luck.

Mr Keita, 68, served as prime minister from 1994 to 2000.

Mali has suffered a year of unrest including a military coup and a French-led military intervention to oust Islamist rebels from the north.

A 12,600-strong United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) is currently deploying to the West African nation, as France begins to withdraw its 3,000 troops.

Analysis

Mali seems to be headed towards a peaceful end of its electoral process after Soumaila Cisse conceded to Ibrahim Boubacar Keita following Sunday's run-off vote.

This is yet another example that politics is not an exact science -many had predicted chaos if Mali held elections so soon. France, anxious to get its troops out of Mali after routing Islamist militants from northern regions earlier this year, faced criticism for pushing for early polls.

Yet the electoral success lies more with the Malian people, who firmly believed the polls would end an era of turmoil. Mr Cisse got that message and did not want the process to drag on. The results so far show he is losing by a wide margin.

But this is not a blank cheque for Mr Keita. The voters' message is clear: "You've now got the legitimacy so you need to get us out of this mess." Malians did not want a post-election crisis, and Mr Cisse sided with them. So he has lost and won at the same time.

'Enormous challenges'

No official results have yet been released following Sunday's run-off, however, reports had put Mr Keita well ahead.

In the first round Mr Cisse, who pledged to improve education, create jobs and reform the army, polled just 19% against Mr Keita's 40% and most of the other candidates then gave Mr Keita their endorsements.

Late on Monday, Mr Cisse tweeted that he and his family had just left the home of Mr Keita "future president of Mali, to congratulate him for his victory. May God bless Mali".

He later told private Malian television Africable that he wished Mr Keita success "so that you can have the strength to take up the enormous challenges that await you'', the Associated Press news agency reports.

The BBC's Alex Duval Smith in the capital, Bamako, said Mr Keita - known as IBK - had the support of influential moderate Islamic leaders; he was also considered the favourite of the military, including last year's coup leaders.

The 68-year-old will now oversee more than $4bn (£2.6bn) in foreign aid promised to rebuild the country after a turbulent 18 months.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (file image)
  • Aged 68, served as prime minister from 1994 to 2000
  • Won 39.2% of the vote in the first round
  • Stood for his Rally for Mali (RPM) party under the slogan "For Mali's honour"
  • 22 of the 25 losing candidates in the first round, gave him their backing in the run-off
  • Usually called "IBK". His supporters refer to him as "Kankeletegui", which mean "a man of his word" in the Bambara language

His new government will also be obliged to open peace talks with the separatist Tuareg rebels within two months following a ceasefire that allowed voting to take place in the north.

Military officers staged a coup in March 2012 - a month ahead of scheduled elections - accusing the government of failing to end a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

The Tuareg rebels were allied with al-Qaeda-aligned groups, but the alliance quickly crumbled with the Islamists occupying major cities such as Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu where they imposed a strict form of Islamic law.

In January, France sent more than 4,000 troops in January and together with West African troops regained control of northern towns and cities.

Tuareg rebels then captured Kidal, the only town in Mali where the Tuaregs form a majority, and agreed a deal in June to allow nationwide elections to go ahead.

During campaigning, Mr Keita vowed to unify Mali if elected.

"For Mali's honour, 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," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

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After the first round Mr Cisse, who has been more openly critical of the coup leaders than Mr Keita, had complained of widespread fraud, with more than 400,000 ballots declared spoiled.

However, Mali's Constitutional Court rejected the allegations and the head of the EU election observer mission, Louis Michel, hailed the electoral process for its transparency.

On Monday, observers from the EU and the African Union again praised the way the second round was carried out.

"Malians should be congratulated because it seems to me they are regaining control of their democratic destiny, which is in fact nevertheless a tradition that exists in Mali," said Mr Michel.

"It is an election that allows Mali now to start finishing the process that it has begun: The return to a normal democracy," Reuters news agency quotes him as saying.

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