Mali′s battered president returns home | News | DW | 27.07.2012
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Mali's battered president returns home

Mali's leader has flown back to his country, where opposing sides are failing to reach a political settlement. The statesman has his hands full, with Mali's northern region also the scene of violent clashes.

Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore landed back in the country's capital, Bamako, on Friday. Traore had been in France getting treatment for injuries he sustained when he was attacked on May 21 at his office in Bamako by a hostile mob opposed to his rule, with a strong contingency of youths.

The president was greeted by supporters at Bamako's main airport as his plane landed.

His return comes just days before a crucial deadline imposed by West African heads of state for Mali's ruling junta and opposition to hammer out a deal for a unity government. Mali's opposing sides have been told to settle their differences by 31 July.

Little sign of a resolution

Talks between the opposing sides have suffered several setbacks, and tensions flared earlier in the week when opposition leaders called on the country's Prime Minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, to step down.

Although the coup leaders have in theory handed over power to the country's interim president and prime minister, in reality they still loom over the political stage. Their henchman also stand accused of carrying out assaults against close supporters of President Dioncounda Traore.

Moreover, instability in Mali is not confined to the political center. Islamic groups retain a hold over the country's northern region bordering Burkina Faso and Niger. Violent clashes are frequent and ancient sites in Timbuktu and Gao have been destroyed as a result of the violence.

sej/jm (dpa,AFP)