Mali president says kidnapped opposition leader alive

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Mali’s President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, said on Tuesday that opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who was kidnapped by gunmen in the West African state in March, is alive.

In a speech in the capital Bamako, the president said the government had proof that Cisse was still alive after months in captivity.

“We know who his captors are,” Keita said. “And if it pleases God, he will come back soon.”

A former finance minister and presidential contender, Cisse is the president of Mali’s opposition Union for the Republic and Democracy party.

READ ALSO:Kidnappers demand N50m for kidnapped Navy Commander

Unidentified gunmen snatched him on March 25 while he was campaigning for parliamentary elections in central Mali, a hotbed of jihadist operations.

Security officials have since said they suspect Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists of being behind the kidnapping.

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Despite a years-long jihadist conflict raging in Mali, Cisse’s abduction was the first of a politician of his rank.

Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in the north in 2012, and which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

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