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Mali's interim president returns home

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Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore has returned to Bamako after two months in Paris recovering from a violent attack by opponents to his appointment.

Traore, 70, said on Friday he forgives those who assaulted him in his office.

"I forgive my attackers," he said at Bamako airport. "The Malian people are going through a very difficult period, starved for unity. I will apply myself to that," he said, adding he would address the nation on Sunday.

Security was tight, with armed, masked men posted on roofs as Traore's plane landed.

He was welcomed by Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra. Ex-junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, who led a March 22 coup, was also present.

The 70-year-old interim president was inaugurated on April 12 after the putschists handed power over to civilians. He was attacked in his office by a mob protesting his appointment on May 21, the eve of the official start of a 12-month transition period for a return to democratic rule.

Two days later Traore left for Paris to seek medical treatment, where he has been since as his country has plunged
deeper into chaos.

Diarra is trying to cobble together a unity government by July 31 on orders from regional mediators to better deal with the occupation of the country's vast north by groups looking to create a state independent from the rule of Bamako.

Burkinabe Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole, who has been involved in mediation efforts, said on Friday that if Traore needed more time to form the inclusive government "he can approach his fellow heads of state".


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