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Abidjan - Mali's interim leader Dioncouda Traore thanked Ivory Coast for its support in resolving its severe political crisis, on his last overseas visit before leaving office on Wednesday.
The west African country is slowly emerging from a turbulent period which saw it suffer the back-to-back blows of a Tuareg rebellion, a military coup and the seizure of half its territory by armed Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda.
“Mali has come a long way, we went through extremely difficult months but we can say today that we've reached the end of the tunnel after retaking all our territory,” Traore said during talks with his Ivorian counterpart Alassane Ouattara.
Ivory Coast contributed troops to an African force which was deployed to Mali as part of a French-led international intervention that routed the Islamists from January.
Traore was to address Malians late Tuesday after returning to Bamako where his successor, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, will be sworn in Wednesday, Traore's office said.
The interim leader visited several west African countries over the last weeks “to say good-bye to those who helped Mali and decorate some heads of state”, officials said.
On Monday, at a final meeting with ministers before Keita is sworn in, Traore paid tribute to his government which he said had “accomplished an almost impossible task”.