Mali holds state ceremony in honor of former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

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Mali held a state ceremony on Friday to honor former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was overthrown in a 2020 coup and died last week.

Acting Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga attended the ceremony at a military camp in Bamako, the capital of Sahel state, where the former leader’s coffin was draped in the Malian flag.

Keita’s relatives were also present, as well as former Malian Prime Minister Moussa Mara, the Guinean Foreign Minister and foreign diplomats in Bamako.

Thousands of people also gathered at the former president‘s residence in Bamako to pay their respects.

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Keita, who was elected in a landslide victory in 2013 and won re-election five years later, died on Sunday aged 76. He is to be buried at his residence in Bamako later Friday.

Mali’s brutal jihadist conflict has overshadowed Keita’s presidency, which, along with a sluggish economy and perceived government corruption, has contributed to mass protests against him in 2020.

Young army officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita forced him to resign on August 18, 2020, detaining Keita and other leaders.

Under pressure from the West African bloc ECOWAS, the rebel junta freed Keita on August 27 and sent him back to his residence in Bamako, under surveillance.

He suffered a mini-stroke the following month and was sent to the United Arab Emirates for treatment.

The ruling junta then staged another coup in May 2021.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed in December to sanction Mali after the junta offered to stay in power for up to five years before holding elections, despite international demands to honor the promise to hold the vote in February.

Goita, the leader of the ruling junta, declared a three-day national holiday in honor of Keita, starting Friday.

(AFP)

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