Malians are due to vote on July 29 in a presidential election that many hope will chart a way out of six years of political unrest and jihadist violence. Mali has been in turmoil since Tuareg rebels and loosely allied jihadists seized its desert north in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene to push them back the following year. Those groups have since regained a foothold in the north and centre, using the sparsely-populated Sahel as a launchpad for attacks across the region. Mali’s incumbent president Ibrahima Boubacar Keita, who took office in 2013, and opposition frontrunner Soumaila Cisse are expected to be the two main candidates in the July 29 polls out of a field of 24 hopefuls.
73 year old Keita announced on 28th May that he would seek a second term in the upcoming elections.
“I present myself as a candidate in the presidential election of July 29,” Keita said on state TV. “I ask you to trust in me again.”
In March 2012, soldiers overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure, allowing a temporary takeover of northern Mali by Tuareg militia and al Qaeda-linked militants.