ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)

STORY: After more than a year of political turmoil, Mali celebrated the inauguration of its new democratically elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Thursday with dancers and military marches.

Various heads of state - from Chad's leader Idriss Deby to French President Francois Hollande - arrived in the capital Bamako for the occasion.

Keita, who is known by his initials IBK, was elected in the presidential polls in August.

After his landslide win in last month's runoff, IBK has said national reconciliation is his government's highest priority.

"To all the ones who have experienced horror, the nightmares of our recent history, I want to promise this will never happen again," he told a large crowd on Thursday.

Keita was officially sworn in on September 4 at a smaller event, but Thursday's celebration at March 26 Stadium was a more lively affair.

The country was plunged into chaos last year after a coup, and rebel uprising eventually led to Islamist insurgents taking control of the northern half of the fractured country.

In January, France sent troops to Mali in a five-month military offensive that crushed al Qaeda-aligned fighters in the north.

France's Hollande praised Mali as a liberator.

"Malian friends, it is our unity and our solidarity, that has allowed us to inflict heavy losses to the jihadists, and to restore the integrity of the Malian territory, but we must stay vigilant. And I came here to tell you that France will stay beside Mali as long as it is threatened," said Hollande at Keita's inauguration.

Advocacy groups have urged Keita to tackle deep-rooted corruption, and junior military officers said widespread anger over graft was one of the triggers of their March 2012 coup.

The coup's ensuing instability initially led to a separatist takeover by Tuareg groups in Mali's north.

Shortly after the Tuareg rebel group, Movement for the Liberation of Azawad declared northern Mali a separate state, al Qaeda-aligned group Ansar Dine, took over parts of northern Mali.

The military intervention by France, working with African allies, crushed the Islamist insurgency.

 

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