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Mali anti-government protesters return to the streets after truce

Thousands of anti-government protesters returned to the streets in Mali Tuesday, resuming their months-long push to topple president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who they accuse of presiding over corruption and impunity in the poor Sahel nation. Demonstrators gathered in a central square in the capital despite rainfall and pleas from mediators to stay at home, with many blowing plastic vuvuzela horns and brandishing anti-government banners. "We want real change in Mali, IBK get out," read one, referring to Keita's initials. The gathering marks the first time the June 5 Movement has staged a protest since July, when the opposition group declared a temporary truce in their campaign to oust Keita. Mali's political impasse has struck fear into the former French colony's neighbours and allies, who are keen to prevent it from sliding into chaos. Tensions snowballed into crisis last month when 11 people died during three days of unrest following an anti-Keita protest, in the worst political strife the country has seen in years. Much of Mali's current tension was sparked in April, when the Constitutional Court threw out 30 results from long-delayed parliamentary elections -- a move that benefited Keita's party, but triggered protests. ECOWAS had recommended appointing new judges to the court, and holding new elections in the 30 disputed parliamentary seats. The MPs occupying those seats, however, have refused to step down. They are drawn from both Keita's party and from opposition parties.