Injured Mali Leader Flies Home, Faces Challenges


Mali's interim president returned on Friday from weeks convalescing abroad after he was beaten up by a mob, facing pressure to form a new government and authorise a foreign military intervention against rebels in the north.
Mali needs outside support to recover from twin crises sparked by a March coup in the capital that precipitated the rebel takeover of its northern zones, occupied by Islamists dominated by al Qaeda's North African wing, AQIM.
The head of the U.S. military's Africa Command (AFRICOM) has said AQIM is the militant organisation's richest faction and the dominant force in the north.
Interim President Dioncounda Traore, who spent weeks in France recovering from injuries he sustained in May when a pro-coup mob broke into his presidential palace and beat him up, flew into Bamako's main airport in the early evening.
"I'm happy to come back on the soil where I was born. My health is improving from day to day," he said in a brief statement, as soldiers and police armed with AK-47s and wearing balaklavas kept watch.
He was accompanied by his wife and children, and a witness said the scars from his injuries were still visible as he spoke to reporters on the tarmac.
"I will answer all of your questions at the appropriate time. In life one must forgive," he said before he and his family were whisked away.
Initial statements from West African leaders that a regional force would be dispatched to help Mali retake its north have shifted to focus on resolving the simmering post-coup political crisis in the capital, where the military is accused of meddling despite having official stood aside in April.

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