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Mali's Keita vows to be 'president of reconciliation'

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Mali's new leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks during an interview on August 9, 2013, in Bamako. Keita pledged Wednesday to be a "president of national reconciliation" in his first public statement since his landslide election victory. (AFP/File)

Mali's new leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keita pledged Wednesday to be a "president of national reconciliation" in his first public statement since his landslide election victory.

Speaking a day after the constitutional court confirmed his win in the August 11 presidential run-off, he vowed to re-establish the rule of law and rebuild conflict-scarred Mali's shattered public institutions.

"I will be the president of national reconciliation. National reconciliation is necessary to face up to the legitimate demands of our people," he told a press conference at his campaign headquarters in the capital Bamako.

Keita, 68, a former prime minister, takes office on September 4 and is charged with leading the west African nation out of a 17-month political crisis triggered by a military coup.

"My first duty after September 4 will be uniting all Malians -- and all Malians without exception -- around the ideals of peace and tolerance. We will have a peaceful democracy," he said.

He described his immediate goals as "rebuilding the rule of law, the recovery of the army, education, the fight against corruption, economic and social development."

"This is the beginning of a new era, full of promise, and a new challenge for Mali," he told the media.

In March 2012, army officers angry at the level of support they had received to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure.

In the chaos that followed, the Tuareg seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by Al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions.

The Islamists were ousted from the northern cities by a French-led military offensive in January. The return to democracy has allowed France to begin withdrawing its 4,500 troops.

US President Barack Obama congratulated Keita on Tuesday and vowed to work with him to advance peace and stability.

"We encourage the candidates and their supporters to accept the results, and to use this election as a foundation for further progress on democracy, national reconciliation, and addressing the security and humanitarian crises in the north," Obama said in a statement.