French President Francois Hollande has received a warm welcome in Mali. His visit comes three weeks after French troops entered the country. He has pledged his continued support.
The release of 28 local officials and soldiers held in a rebel stronghold in the north of Mali has been demanded by the government and the country's former colonial power France. The UN is trying to negotiate.
Mali's second round parliamentary election has ended with low voter turnout possibly due to attacks earlier in the week. Jihadists claimed responsibility for the killings in Kidal of two UN peacekeepers from Senegal.
Mali's newly-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has cut short a visit to France and returned home amid renewed fight between government forces and Tuareg rebels. They pulled out of peace talks last week.
In Mali's run-off election, Soumaila Cisse will have to fight for every single vote if he is to beat rival Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and become the country's new president.