U.S. resumes aid to Mali after new president takes office

WASHINGTON Fri Sep 6, 2013 7:40pm EDT

1 of 2. Mali's President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita attends his swearing-in ceremony in Bamako, Mali, September 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Penney

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday lifted aid restrictions to Mali after the West African nation's democratically elected government formally took office.

U.S. assistance was suspended after a military junta toppled the Malian government in March 2012 and al Qaeda-linked militants seized northern cities.

Those militants were defeated after thousands of French soldiers intervened, which paved the way for a peaceful and democratic election in August.

Mali's new president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was inaugurated on Wednesday.

Although development aid has resumed, the Obama administration said it will continue to assess when and how to re-engage with the Malian military.

The administration said any eventual resumption of assistance to the military "will prioritize security sector reform, professional norms, the reassertion of civilian authority, accountability mechanisms, and the rule of law."

(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Eric Beech)

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