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.
Despite the peace deal, which gathers the government, government-allied groups and former Tuareg rebels, a state of emergency remains in force and heads into its fourth year in November.
Jihadist violence, meanwhile, has spread from northern Mali to the centre and south and spilled into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, often exacerbating communal conflicts.
Twenty-four candidates are in the race for the presidency, and over eight million people are eligible to vote.