Ambassador from Mali: Who Is Al-Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita?
Saturday, March 03, 2012
The West African nation of Mali’s latest ambassador to the United States is a seasoned diplomat whose career has been focused more on relations with other African nations than with the U.S. Keita presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on January 18, 2012.
Born January 22, 1955, Al-Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita completed secondary school at the French School of Cairo, Egypt, in June 1973, and earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Relations at Cairo University in May 1978.
Returning to Mali, on March 12, 1979, he joined the Foreign Ministry as a counselor-trainee, moving up to chief of the Middle East Section in 1981, and to chief of the Division on the Middle East and on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in 1987. For his first foreign posting, Keita was sent back to Egypt to serve as first counselor at the embassy in Cairo from 1989 to 1996. Returning to the Malian capital of Bamako, he served the Foreign Ministry as director of Political Affairs from 1996 to 1999, and as technical advisor from 1999 to 2001.
From January to November 1999, Keita participated in a series of meetings and seminars that developed the curriculum for the then-new Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a U.S. Defense Department project to create an institution to encourage discussion of the appropriate roles for the military in African democracies. For his first ambassadorship, Keita was appointed Ambassador to Ethiopia resident in Addis Ababa, with concurrent accreditation to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Djibouti, serving also as Permanent Representative to the African Union, the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa and the UN Environmental Program, from 2001 to 2007. In 2008, he was promoted to secretary general of the Foreign Ministry, a post he retained until being named ambassador to the U.S.
In addition to his work for the Foreign Ministry, Keita founded and edited a weekly news publication, La Concorde, from 1985 to 1989, and served as a bilingual interpreter for the dictator of Mali, General Moussa Traoré, from 1980 to 1989. Keita has been married since 1980, and has five children. He speaks Arabic, French and English.
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