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Mali Votes for Stability

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes the helm in a beleaguered country under attack from Islamic extremists.

1:32 PM, Aug 14, 2013 • By ROGER KAPLAN
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The French, without illusions about a permanent “victory” over the elusive bands of jihadist warriors hiding in the desert, probably would prefer an accommodation between the southern political class and the anti-jihadist Tuareg in the north.  At the simplest, the quid would be military cooperation and the quo would be some degree of autonomy; whether such a thing is possible – whether, for example, the Tuareg separatists can agree to cooperate with “black” Malians of the south (though there are many in the north as well) – remains a challenge for anyone concerned about Mali’s public interest, as opposed to personal, clan, or tribal enrichment.

Whether the Bamako political class has learned a lesson in the importance of clean government remains to be demonstrated; but the donor nations have only themselves to blame for this, to the degree they taught a generation of Malian politicians and administrative officials that serious accountability is, basically, for the birds.

The U.S., however, can take pride in the democratic progress of one of its prize pupils, whose political and military elites, at least until last year, were among the State department’s model Africans.  To the degree a confirmed IBK victory would be a case of déjà vu all over again, we can surely take comfort in the thought the Foggy Bottom experts are polishing their lenses.

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