PARIS, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- The French government said the successful weekend presidential election in Mali means a country divided by coup in 2012 is reborn.
Malians voted Sunday in a second round of presidential elections pitting former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse against former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Cisse took to his official Twitter account this week to congratulate Keita as the "future president of Mali."
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius extended his "warmest congratulations" to Keita on his election victory.
"It is rare for a country to be born twice, but that was the case for Mali, whose very existence was threatened seven months ago," he said in a statement Tuesday.
The French government answered a January request from its former colony to send soldiers in to help tackle al-Qaida and foreign fighters who took control over parts of Mali following a 2012 coup. Keita said during the campaign the French intervention was a national embarrassment.
Fabius said the Keita government was "bolstered by democratic legitimacy" and he should work to help the country recover and ensure its unity.
"France stood by Mali at a time when it was necessary to act to stop its destruction," he said. "It will remain by its side as a loyal friend, now that it is necessary to rebuild."