BAMAKO, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Mali's former prime minister and former president of the National Assembly (parliament) Ibrahim Keita Boubarka, widely known as IBK, was elected president of the West African country, according to provisional results announced Thursday.
IBK won an absolute majority of 77.61 percent in the Aug. 11 presidential run-off, well ahead of his rival Soumaila Cisse, the 63-year-old former minister of finance, who garnered 22.39 percent.
Of the 6,829,696 registered voters, the turnout hit 45.78 percent in the second round.
IBK, born in 1945 in Koutiala in the Sikasso region, is a veteran in the Malian politics. Former ambassador of Mali to Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Burkina Faso and Niger, IBK became foreign minister in 1993 under former President Alpha Omar Konare, before being named head of the government in February 1994.
In the first months as head of the government, IBK succeeded in calming down the demonstrations and strikes, ending the social crisis and earning himself a reputation of firmness.
In 2000, IBK created his own Rally for Mali (RPM) party. In 2002, IBK launched his bid for the presidency and finished third in the first round, after Amadou Toumani Toure and Cisse, candidate of the Adema-PASJ.
After this defeat, IBK in the same year ran in the parliamentary elections. Elected deputy in Commune IV district of Bamako, the Malian capital, IBK became president of the National Assembly.
In 2007, IBK launched a second attempt at the supreme post, losing again to Toure, who won an outright victory in the first round.
In 2012, backed by a coalition of allied parties, IBK planned a third try as candidate of the RPM. The elections did not take place as scheduled because of a military coup that overthrew Toure on March 22.
Between March and April 2012, in parallel to the institutional crisis taking place in Bamako, the three regional capitals of northern Mali fell into hands of the Tuareg armed groups and Islamists.
When the rebels continued to move towards the center and the south in January 2013, the transitional authorities were forced to call for French-led international interventions to push them back. During the election campaigns started in early July, IBK won the support of a large part of the Malians traumatized by the protracted crisis, with his promise to restore order and stability in the country.
For his five-year term, the new president faces daunting challenges in reconciliating the nation. The negotiations with the Tuareg rebels in the north should start within 60 days after his presidential inauguration. The reform and the strengthening of the Malian army is also a priority. On the eve of the proclamation official results, Captain Amadou Sanogo, coup leader who overthrew Toure in March 2012, was promoted to four-star general, a rank enjoying immunity in exchange for his departure from the political stage.
Observers say the move is to prepare a cleaned ground for IBK to make a new start. Regarding economic recovery and social development, IBK promised 200,000 jobs, 50,000 houses and universal health coverage for his people. He also promised to tackle the deeply-rooted corruption by announcing the adoption of a law against illicit enrichment. All these commitments are to be confirmed or reaffirmed with concrete measures by the newly elected president, whose first speech as head of state is eagerly awaited with an official date yet to be known.