Voters in Mali headed to the ballot boxes Sunday for a presidential runoff, in another step toward re-establishing democracy and rule of law in the West African country. Voting unfolded without major incident, although a second day of rain continued to lash much of the country, flooding parts of the low-slung capital Bamako. The nation’s Interior Ministry is expected to announce results by Friday. At stake is whether the election will mend the country’s many divides—or further open them. Meanwhile, foreign partners—chiefly, France and the U.S.—are counting on an emerging Mali to play a role in their campaign against Islamic militants, which spreads from neighboring Algeria into Nigeria.
With Mali’s government still in disarray, Sunday’s election offered the country’s seven million voters the opportunity to select a head of state whose government would begin shouldering some of the responsibility in the fight against Islamic fundamentalists.
The first-round election in July narrowed the field from 28 candidates, most of whom endorsed former Prime Minister Ibrahim Keita in the two weeks since.
Mr. Keita faced former finance minister and longtime political rival Soumaïla Cissé in a contest to lead a country emerging from twin crises: Mali’s north was conquered by al Qaeda-allied militants last year, while the south was overthrown in a coup.
Since January, French troops have been patrolling the north, and the United Nations recently dispatched a peacekeeping mission there, chasing al Qaeda militants into hiding.
Full Article: Nations Closely Watch Runoff Vote in Mali – WSJ.com.