Friday, July 27, 2012

Mali's President Traore Returns From Paris

27 July 2012
Last updated at 14:45 ET

Mali's President Diouncounda Traore returns from Paris

Mr Traore is expected to form a new government of unity within days of his arrival

Mali's interim President Diouncounda Traore has arrived back home after a two-month absence.

He has been recovering in Paris from injuries sustained when he was beaten by supporters of March's coup.

Journalist Idrissa Fane told the BBC Mr Traore was greeted by a large crowds at the airport and looked to be healthy.

Analysts say he has a tough task ahead in trying to resolve the political stalemate caused by the coup and an Islamist rebellion in the north.

Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants capitalised on the chaos following an army coup in March and took control of the north of the country, but their uneasy alliance has collapsed.

The al-Qaeda Islamists now control all three of the region's main cities - Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. Thousands have fled the north.


Idrissa Fane told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme there was a huge security presence at the airport.

The smiling president was greeted by politicians, diplomats, religious and security leaders, he said.

Crowds of Mr Traore's party supporters also lined the road from the airport to his residence.

Correspondents says there is high hope in Mali that this is not just a symbolic return.

Mr Traore is expected to form a new government of unity within days of his arrival and deliver a strategy to reclaim the northern region of Mali back from rebel control.

The BBC's West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy says Mr Traore will also have to handle with care the group of soldiers that overthrew the previous administration and agreed to an interim government after the intervention of the regional bloc, Ecowas.

Coup leader Capt Amadou Sanogo remains very influential in the management of the state's affairs, he says.

Mr Traore also faces a growing humanitarian crisis mainly with more than 4.5m people at risk of food insecurity.

According to the UN, nearly 200,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Our correspondent says it is also not clear whether Mr Traore will back Ecowas's plan to send 3,000 troops to intervene in northern Mali.

There has been international condemnation of the Islamist fighters in the ancient city of Timbuktu where they have been destroying centuries-old shrines to Islamic saints revered by Sufi Muslims.

Their Salafist beliefs condemn the veneration of saints and they regard the mausoleums as idolatrous.

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