International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said Friday there was "great hope" for battle-scarred Mali's future, predicting healthy GDP growth of 6.6 percent and praising its management of the economy. She said the government had demonstrated prudence in managing to maintain economic stability despite being upended by a coup which opened the door for an Islamist incursion and French-led military intervention to restore democracy a year ago. "I am very hopeful given the perseverance and courage of the people of Mali. I trust in the authorities of the country. The IMF has been, is and will remain a committed economic development partner of Mali," she told a news conference in the capital Bamako. Lagarde, wrapping up a three-day visit to the west African nation, said the gradual resumption of international aid and business investment was gradually helping Mali back onto its feet. "We expect that real GDP growth will be 6.6 percent in 2014, thanks to a rebound in agricultural production, recovery in the service sector and the revival of construction projects," she said. Mali's democratically-elected president Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown in a March 2012 military coup led by army captain Amadou Sanogo. The chaos following the mutiny opened the way for the Tuareg separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) to seize the towns and cities of Mali's vast northern desert with the help of several Islamist groups. The MNLA was then sidelined by its one-time allies, extremists who imposed a brutal version of Islamic shariah in the region and destroyed historic buildings and artifacts in the fabled desert city of Timbuktu. The Islamists pushed south toward Bamako, prompting France to deploy troops in January last year who pushed them back into the country's mountains and vast desert, and Mali returned to democracy with the election in August of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The country remains deeply divided, however, with the impoverished north home predominantly to lighter-skinned Tuareg and Arab populations who accuse the sub-Saharan ethnic groups that live in the more prosperous south of marginalising them. "Complementing the key challenge of reconciliation, Mali needs to accelerate growth while maintaining macroeconomic stability," Lagarde said. "To unlock the potential for growth, important investment will be needed, both in the public and private sectors, at the same time as an agenda of reforms clearly focused on a shared economy." She said she was confident in the ability of Keita's government to lead Mali out of crisis. "Mali is willing and able to return to the path of growth... I hope that Mali gets back on its feet to achieve results," she said.