Bamako - Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will be
publicly inaugurated on Thursday, in an elaborate ceremony with foreign
dignitaries including French President Francois Hollande.
Keita, who was sworn in as president on 4 September, will
welcome Hollande, his guest of honour, at the airport in the capital Bamako at
The two statesmen will then drive to Bamako's 26 Mars
stadium where the inauguration ceremony will begin an hour later.
Hollande is held in high regard by Mali after France sent
4,100 troops in January to help its poverty-stricken former colony fight an
Twenty-six African heads of state are expected to attend the
ceremony that will be symbolic of Mali's return to democracy after 18 months of
Keita will address the nation, followed by speeches by
Hollande, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara and Chadian President Idriss
Keita's landslide election victory in August was seen as
pivotal to helping the West African nation regain stability as it attempts to
recover from a military coup last year, followed by 18 months of political
Keita has pledged to create "a strong and impartial
state that will bring together all Malians".
The 68-year-old, popularly known as IBK, has appointed 34
ministers and created a National Reconciliation Ministry, which will focus on
the development of Mali's northern regions and dealing with separatist Tuareg
After the speeches, soldiers of the Malian, French and
Chadian armies as well as the European Union training mission and United
Nations peacekeepers will parade in the 50 000-seat stadium.
The political delegations will then drive to the Koulouba
presidential palace for a celebratory lunch and to hold bilateral meetings.