Low turnout and vote abuses marred Sunday elections meant to complete democratic transition in Mali, after a coup last year led to an Islamist takeover of the north that was crushed by French military intervention. Officials said armed men carried off ballot boxes from some bureaux in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali, preventing some people from casting their votes in the legislative poll. It was not immediately clear who was responsible. The West African country has suffered a surge in Islamist violence since President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected in August in a vote that marked a return to democracy after the March 2012 coup. The military putsch plunged Mali into chaos and allowed al Qaeda-linked fighters to seize the northern two-thirds of the country. France launched a massive military operation in January that drove the Islamists from northern towns, but isolated cells have remained active.
Vote counting began after some 25,000 bureaux across the country closed at 1800 GMT. Only a fraction of the 6.7 million people registered to vote appeared to have cast their ballot and there was no sign of the long queues of voters that marked the presidential vote.
“Compared to the presidential elections the turnout was very weak. In my bureau, we didn’t even get a third of the voters,” said Oumar Samake, president of a voting bureau in Bamako. “Political parties have to do more to inform their voters.”
Full Article: Mali election marred by low turnout and voting abuses.