Mali swear in new president
Leaders from across Africa and France watched the inauguration of Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in front of thousands of his supporters as the nation entered a new era of democracy after months of political chaos.
In many ways the ceremony at the 55,000-seat March 26 Stadium in the capital Bamako held most significance for France -- drawing a line under what has been viewed as one of the more successful foreign interventions by a Western power in recent decades.
A place of honour was reserved for the French President Francois Hollande, who launched a military action in January, aided by African troops, and defeated armed groups linked to al-Qaeda who occupied northern Mali last year.
"We are at the successful conclusion, because it is a victory, a big victory for Mali that we celebrate together today," Hollande said to loud applause.
The ceremony began with Hollande and Keita standing before the Malian flag for the national anthem before Hollande addressed the crowd ahead of musical and cultural performances and military marches.
Keita pledged to unite Mali and end endemic corruption as he was sworn in on September 4 to lead the deeply-divided west African nation's emergence from months of political crisis sparked by a military coup in March last year.
Keita's election in the first presidential polls since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4 bn in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.
The return to democracy has been praised by Hollande, who will be accompanied by four senior ministers and is expected to hold talks with Keita on security, reconciliation, economic recovery and the fight against corruption.