Just a short comment on some of the sentiments referred to in the previous post:
Mali is praised for being politically stable and trustworthy - generally there isn't too much graft and corruption.
I said generally. Recently, I had a blatant reminder of just how fragile that line is - my counterpart, the director of the regional tourism office - a pretty coveted and respectable position - was removed from his position this week.
Why? He supported the opposition during the recent presidential elections. Sure, they could probably explain and give another reason but it was clearly politically motivated - because he supported the other candidate, he is thus not loyal and needs to be fired. This implies that one must support the winner for if they don't, they risk being disposed of if the other party/candidate wins. If this is how politics are run - it is inherently less free and democratic because voters might not vote how they truly feel because they don't want to lose their job/contract/etc.
My counterpart grew up in Segou - taught French at a local high school and is the "Chief de Quartier" of probably the most populous neighborhood of Segou. His heart is truly invested in the development of Segou to improve the lives of all those living there. He is intelligent, organized, motivated, honest, and just has a great understanding of how all the pieces come together. While he may not have been an expert on tourism when he got the job a few years ago, he certainly knows what is going on now... except for now he doesn't have a job anymore.
So, while Mali is generally blessed with good governance - it still has a long way to go.