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U.S. calls Malian government to task

Aug. 21, 2013 at 11:49 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The new government of Mali is called on to ensure it addresses national security challenges during its first days in office, the U.S. secretary of state said.

The U.N. Mission in Mali announced it recognized the results of a Malian constitutional court declaring former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as the nation's new president.

Keita bested challenger and former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse in a presidential contest that took two rounds to settle.

The interim government in January called for military assistance from former colonial power France to help fight nomadic rebels and al-Qaida militants who took control over parts of northern Mali following a coup in 2012. Keita campaigned that the French intervention was a national embarrassment.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement congratulating Keita on his election.

"Mali's new government must address the country's most pressing challenges, including national reconciliation and security sector reform, which is why we particularly emphasize the importance of Malian civilian control and oversight of the military," he said in a statement.

President Obama extended a similar message to Keita in a Tuesday. The French government extended its best wishes last week when Cisse admitted defeat.

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