The president of Mali’s election commission has raised doubts over its ability to stage presidential polls seen as essential to restoring democracy to the conflict-scarred country on the planned date of July 28. A caretaker government announced the vote just one month ago, raising a number of urgent questions over the possibility of free and fair elections in a nation recovering from a coup that paved the way for Islamist rebels to seize control of the north. “It will be extremely difficult to organise the first round of the presidential election on July 28,” Mamadou Diamountani said late on Thursday. Diamountani told AFP there were still “many challenges to overcome” before a nationwide vote could take place throughout the west African state. “Firstly, we have to recognise that the production of polling cards is way behind behind schedule. But this is the only document that allows the voter to vote. It isn’t just an identity card, but also a voter registration card,” he said.
Diamountani added that it would be “extremely difficult” to get up to eight million cards to the electorate in a country where up to 500,000 people have been displaced by armed conflict in the last year.
“It will take more than a month for the cards to get to their owners, because the way the Malian ministry of administration operates is not convincing,” he said.
He highlighted the instability in the northeastern desert town of Kidal, which is occupied by armed Tuareg separatists and still has no army presence despite a ceasefire between the transitional government and the rebels signed on June 18 in Burkina Faso.
Full Article: AFP: Mali election commission casts doubt on July 28 poll.