Polls opened in Mali Sunday for the final round of legislative elections aimed at reviving public faith in the country’s embattled institutions despite a bloody jihadist conflict and the coronavirus pandemic. Voters in Mali, one of the world’s most impoverished nations with a population of 19 million, were casting their ballots in the runoff for 147 seats in the National Assembly. The elections have been repeatedly delayed, eroding trust in institutions as the country struggles with an Islamist revolt that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated threats, with Mali recording 13 deaths out of more than 200 cases, a relatively low toll, but one that experts warn is likely to rise.
Few turned out to vote in Mali’s long-delayed parliamentary elections over the weekend, as the country grapples with the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, the kidnapping of main opposition leader Soumalia Cisse, and an ongoing security crisis in the state’s north and central regions. An official turnout figure was not available at the closing of the polls. However, observers from a group of civil society associations estimated that the figure was close to 7.5%. In addition to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, which meant many chose to stay at home, at least 200,000 people who had been displaced by violence were also unable to vote. The elections had already been postponed several times – the last parliamentary poll was held in 2013, which saw President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s Rally for Mali party win a significant majority. The next parliamentary election was due to be held in late 2018 following Keita’s re-election, however the vote was repeatedly deferred owing to security issues. Mali announced its first coronavirus death on Saturday evening, just hours before the polls opened. The victim was a 71-year-old man who had recently returned from France. Mali currently has 20 confirmed cases of the virus. Several opposition parties had called for the election to be canceled due to fears over the spread of coronavirus. However, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse said proper precautions had been put in place and issued an appeal to voters to observe hygiene measures at the polls.
Malians vote Sunday in a long-delayed parliamentary election, despite a raging jihadist conflict, the recent kidnap of a leading opposition politician and the coronavirus pandemic. Experts see the vote as a key step towards leading the West African state out of its spiral of violence and closer to a political solution to stop the bloodshed. The parliamentary election has been delayed several times since 2018, mostly over security concerns. But Mali’s government says the poll will go ahead on Sunday, even as the novel coronavirus has added to the country’s chronic security problems. Authorities this week recorded Mali’s first coronavirus cases, and afterwards announced measures including a night-time curfew to stop its spread.
The Malian government on Thursday delayed by a month legislative elections initially scheduled for October 28, citing delays in registering candidates. A first round of voting for the National Assembly will now take place on November 25, followed by a further vote on December 16 in constituencies where no candidate wins outright. A government statement said a strike by judges meant some candidates had been unable to obtain and submit the necessary documentation before the deadline Thursday. The new deadline for candidate submissions is October 11, it said.
Mali’s constitutional court on Monday confirmed the re-election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to a second five-year term. The court said Keita received 67 percent of the Aug. 12 runoff vote, beating opposition leader Soumaila Cisse who received more than 32 percent. There was a 34 percent voter turnout, the constitutional court said, with more than 2.7 million Malians having voted despite threats by extremist groups. Constitutional Court President Manassa Danioko rejected motions filed by the opposition party last week against results. He said there is not enough evidence of fraud to nullify the results. Keita is to be inaugurated Sept. 4 for his second and final term.
More than a thousand supporters of Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse gathered in the capital Bamako on Saturday after he lost a presidential run-off to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita amid accusations of fraud. Keita was re-elected with 67.17% of Sunday’s vote against 32.83% for challenger and former finance minister Cisse. In Bamako, the protesters played vuvuzelas and displayed their candidate’s campaign posters, watched by dozens of police officers in riot gear, AFP journalists witnessed. Cisse, who said on Friday he had won the poll and dismissed the official results as “parody and lies”, joined his supporters mid-morning.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of Mali claimed an overwhelming victory on Thursday in a runoff vote after a controversial first round of voting last month that was marred by insecurity and allegations of electoral fraud. Mr. Keïta will serve a second term after being declared the winner of the second round, which was held this past weekend. He received 67 percent of the vote; his chief rival, Soumaïla Cissé, took 33 percent. Mali has struggled with security issues, and the violence carried out by Islamist extremists for years spilled over into polling places during the election. In Arkodia, a village in the northern region of Timbuktu, a local election official was shot to death by extremists during the voting, local officials said. In all, security concerns kept nearly 500 voting sites from opening, mostly in the north and center of the country where extremist groups operate, government officials said.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has won re-election “comfortably” based on his campaign’s vote count, his spokesman said on Tuesday, dismissing claims from the opposition that they won. With official results not expected for a few days, the two sides have been swapping counterclaims and accusations since Monday’s second-round run-off. The ballot pitted Keita, who is seeking a second term to rule the West African gold- and cotton-producing country, against opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who said on Monday that the vote was fraudulent and that he was victor.
Malian opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse said Monday that he would reject the results of a presidential runoff against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, which has been marred with accusations of fraud. Ballot counting is underway in the western African country after Sunday’s second round vote. The results are not expected until midweek at the earliest, but Keita is predicted to confirm a second term in office. Cisse, 68, has accused the government camp of electoral fraud, including vote buying and ballot-box stuffing.
Millions of Malians are voting in an unprecedented runoff presidential election that has been overshadowed by widespread allegations of fraud and the threat of Islamist extremist violence. The current president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, is the favourite, having won 41% of the vote in the first round two weeks ago while the challenger, Soumaïla Cissé, took only 18%. Extra security forces have been deployed after about 250,000 people, 3% of the electorate, were unable to vote because of insecurity during the first round. Armed attacks and other incidents were recorded at about a fifth of polling stations. Mali is key in the battle against Islamic extremism in the Sahel region and and is central to efforts to restrict illegal immigration to Europe.
Malians are preparing to vote in a runoff election that will go ahead on Sunday despite widespread allegations of fraud in the first round. The current president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, won 41% of the vote in the first round on 29 July, with Soumaila Cissé a distant second with 18%. The pool of candidates has now been reduced from 24 to two, and it is the first time an incumbent president of Mali has ever had to face a runoff. Around 250,000 people, 3% of the electorate, were unable to vote because of insecurity in central and northern Mali, and Cissé has accused Keita of stuffing ballot boxes there.
The first round of voting in Mali’s presidential election gave outgoing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita a conclusive lead over his rival — but unresolved anger and finger-pointing over the results have highlighted some of the country’s divisions. Eighteen of the 24 candidates in the election joined forces Monday to demand the resignation of the minister of territorial administration and decentralisation, Mohamed Ag Erlaf. They accused him of being to blame for an “electoral robbery” and urged people in the capital Bamako to rally on Tuesday.
Malians look set to vote again on 12 August to choose their president from the two remaining candidates. The run-off will see President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (known as IBK) go up against Soumaila Cisse for the second time in five years. In the first round of Mali’s presidential election on 29 July, IBK officially won 41.4% of the vote. Cisse came a distant second with 17.8%. However, the poll was marred by widespread allegations of corruption, rigging and vote-buying. Activists and party members allege various incidents of fraud and ballot-box stuffing. Cisse’s campaign director, for example, claimed there is a “village of 150 inhabitants where 3,000 people voted”. Citizen observers in Kayes region say voters were seen standing in line to receive fertiliser after casting their votes, while some in Bamako were reportedly offered tens of dollars to vote a certain way. In the north, where there is little security, rumours abound that the ruling party conspired with militant groups to rig the vote.
After the first round of Mali’s presidential election was marred by violence and accusations of fraud, EU observers on Tuesday called for more transparency and access during Sunday’s run-off. It came as a thousand people gathered in the capital of Bamako to condemn alleged fraud in the July 29 poll. “With the second round approaching, it would be desirable for authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee all voters can exercise their right to vote,” said Cecile Kyenge, who heads the EU observer mission in Mali. Kyenge welcomed the publication of a detailed list of 871 polling stations where voting could not be held in the first round, due to outbreaks of violence.
Opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse is mounting a legal challenge in Mali’s constitutional court alleging “ballot box-stuffing” after he came in a distant second to incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the first round of the country’s presidential election. Keita won 41.42 percent of votes in the July 29 presidential poll, easily ahead of Cisse with 17.8 percent. They will face off in a second-round runoff on Sunday, August 12. “Soumaila Cisse filed last night (Saturday) around 20 submissions to the constitutional court for ballot box-stuffing, violations of the electoral law and other irregularities,” a spokesman for the candidate told the AFP news agency on Sunday.
Mali’s presidential election will go to a run-off poll after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita failed to get enough votes to win a second term in office outright, according to preliminary figures provided by the government. Keita won 41.4 percent of the vote in the mostly desert West African country, while rival Soumaila Cisse won 17.8 percent, the Ministry of Territorial Administration said on Thursday, four days after an election marred by accusations of fraud and attacks by suspected militants that prevented thousands from voting. With neither candidate obtaining the 50 percent required to win outright, the two will meet in a runoff vote later this month. Turnout was just over 43 percent, in line with a historical average that is the lowest in West Africa.
A majority of the contenders to become Mali’s next president said on Wednesday they will not accept election results “marred by irregularities” ahead of an official verdict expected on Friday. Major opposition figures, such as former finance minister Soumaila Cisse — seen as the president’s biggest threat in the poll, which was held Sunday — and businessman Aliou Diallo, signed the joint declaration. “We will not accept results marred by irregularities,” the group’s statement, read out by candidate Modibo Kone, said. “We do not want to delegitimise the entirety of the process but there needs to be a minimum of credibility,” Soumaila Cisse’s campaign director, Tiebile Drame, told AFP.
Three candidates in Mali’s presidential election claimed on Tuesday to have made it into a two-candidate run-off vote, adding to confusion over a poll beset by claims of irregularities and armed attacks that prevented thousands from voting. Candidates are forbidden by law to announce results before they are officially published and by 8 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Tuesday, there was no sign of the Ministry of Territorial Administration releasing any, which did little to calm tensions. Rival parties have given differing outlooks based on their own polling, raising the political heat in the mostly desert country, already under threat from ethnic and Islamist violence.
Counting was under way on Monday in Mali following a key presidential election that saw balloting halted at hundreds of polling stations because of violence in restive regions of the poor Sahel country. Despite the violence, candidates and authorities praised Sunday’s first round of voting, relieved that the violence – which included the torching of polling stations and assaults on electoral officials – caused no casualties. Security was a central issue during the campaign, in which 73-year-old President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is seeking re-election with the international community hoping the poll will strengthen a 2015 peace accord.
Mali holds crucial polls on Sunday with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita seeking re-election in a country reeling from jihadist violence and ethnic attacks. The international community hopes the poll will strengthen a 2015 accord that Mali, a linchpin state in the troubled Sahel region, sees as its cornerstone for peace. But violence has peppered the election, with the final days of campaigning marred by an attack on a candidate’s convoy and renewed killings of civilians.
Armed protesters from Mali’s Arab community fired shots into the air, burned tyres and torched vehicles in Timbuktu on Wednesday, bringing the desert city to a standstill days before an election seen as a test of stability across the country, officials said. The Arab youths, mostly petty traders, were protesting against worsening insecurity and alleged ill treatment by security forces in northern Mali, which has been plagued by Islamist violence, Tuareg separatists and ethnic tensions ever since armed groups took over parts of the region in 2012. Demonstrators filled the streets, forcing shops and banks to shut, witnesses said, though there were no reports of casualties.
The team of the leading opposition candidate in Mali’s upcoming presidential election claimed Friday that there were “substantial anomalies” in the electoral register and warned of a possible “massive attempt at fraud” in the 29 July vote. Speaking at a news conference in Bamako, the campaign manager of opposition frontrunner, Soumaila Cisse, said the electoral register published online on 4 July was “totally different” from the one audited by the International Organisation of Francophonie on 27 April. The number of names on the online register totalled 8,105,154 voters, more than the 8,000,462 counted by the IOF, campaign manager Tiebile Drame said.
As deadly attacks by extremists become more brazen in Mali, officials and citizens fear this month’s presidential election will be at risk from growing insecurity. A branch of al-Qaida even set off a car bomb at the headquarters of a new West African counterterror force late last month, further destabilizing central Mali as extremist groups expand from remote northern regions where they have had strongholds for years. A more assertive response by Mali’s security forces has led to accusations of extrajudicial killings, while neighbors turn on each other amid suspicions of joining extremist groups. At least 289 civilians including young children have been killed in communal violence since the beginning of the year, with some burned alive in their homes or killed while hiding in mosques, the United Nations said this month.
With less than two weeks to the presidential polls in Mali, the U.N. human rights office says killings of almost 300 Malian civilians in fighting between rival militias this year, could threaten the outcome of the election. Malians head to the polls on July 29 for a vote meant to draw a line under six years of political unrest, jihadist attacks and ethnic clashes. But the situation has degenerated in recent months and spilled over into neighbouring countries. Mali’s government has repeatedly said the polls, in which incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is seeking re-election, will go ahead as planned, but the relentless violence threatens to significantly depress turnout.
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.
The Malian army is cracking down on a militia in the country’s troubled centre in a bid to quell communal violence ahead of a July 29 presidential election, sources said. The Dana Amassagou, a militia which groups traditional Dogon hunters, has said it will stop the vote from being held in parts of central Mali, where it emerged several months ago. Violence has increased in the past three years in central Mali between nomadic Fulani herders and Bambara and Dogon farmers over accusations the Fulanis were colluding with jihadists.
The official campaign to become president of Mali kicked off on Saturday under heightened security, three weeks before election day in the West African nation. 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. More than 30,000 security and defence officers have been mobilised, according to the interior ministry, to “secure candidates on the ground and voting operations”, amid fears of possible jihadist attacks.
Election organizers in Mali have ended a two-week strike over working conditions, a union said on Wednesday, lifting a threat to a looming vote. 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. But attacks by militants had cast doubt on the government’s ability to hold the poll on time even before the strike, which disrupted the distribution of voting cards. Last week, militants raided the headquarters of a regional military base in central Mali, leaving at least six people dead. Four civilians were also killed on Sunday by a car bomb that targeted French troops in the north.
Mali local government administrators at the frontline of organising next month’s presidential election launched a seven-day strike on Monday demanding more security and allowances, two unions representing them said. The administrators, who hold the rank of prefects or sub-prefects, are the government’s representatives at the local level. They are in charge of organising the July 29 vote, and said the strike will last until at least July 1, after talks with the government collapsed over the weekend. “We are concerned about our safety and working conditions. We have requested benefits in accordance with regulations, but we have not been listened to,” said Olivier Traore, secretary general of one of the unions.
Malians burned ballot boxes and one candidate was kidnapped during local elections meant to fill posts left vacant in the north since Islamist militants hijacked a 2012 Tuareg rebellion and ousted the government. The jihadists were driven out a year later by a French-led military operation, but have continued to launch strikes on army and U.N. targets from their desert bases and have intensified their insurgency in recent months and spread further south. Polls were canceled in at least seven districts for security reasons in elections widely criticized by opposition parties as well as armed groups participating in a U.N.-led peace process, pointing to the ongoing fragility of the former French colony three years after the war. While locals formed orderly lines outside polling booths in the southern capital Bamako, ballot boxes were burned by armed men in Timbuktu and the PRVM-FASAKO party said its candidate for a commune near the central town of Mopti had been kidnapped.