Guest post from Sophia Moestrup
Mali has a new president – Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta, also known as IBK. IBK, a former prime minister under Alpha Konaré, won Sunday’s run-off election against contender Soumaila Cissé, a former finance minister who served under IBK. Though official results are yet to be published, Cissé conceded defeat Monday evening and visited IBK with his family to congratulate him, a widely applauded gesture. Cissé has vowed he will remain in the opposition and is strongly positioned to become the leader of that opposition following legislative elections scheduled to take place this fall. This is good news for a country that has suffered under a steady weakening of political parties, debate and oversight under the ‘consensus’ politics of former president Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) who was toppled in last year’s coup.
IBK and Cissé are both former leaders within Konaré’s Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA) party, who went on to create their own parties, the Rally for Mali (RPM) and the Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD), respectively, following disagreements within ADEMA. The ADEMA candidate in these past elections, Dramane Dembélé, backed IBK in the second round, though his party backed Cissé, following a pre-election agreement. It will be interesting to see how coalitions form in the new legislature. ADEMA and URD together had a slim majority in the National Assembly elected in 2007 (which was maintained as an interim legislature following the coup) – 85 out of 160 seats. Could Mali be headed for a cohabitation?