An alliance of parties supporting Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has won parliamentary elections, according to provisional results announced by the government. The Rally for Mali (RPM) and its allies won 115 of 147 seats in the national assembly following a run-off on Sunday, officials announced on state TV. Turnout for both rounds of voting was said to be low. The vote marks Mali’s return to democracy after a coup in 2012. France still has up to 3,000 soldiers in the country after intervening in January to oust Islamist and secessionist rebels who had occupied the north of the country. The West African nation held a peaceful presidential election in August, but since then has seen a surge in violence.
Malians voted on Sunday in the second round of parliamentary elections intended to cap the nation’s return to democracy but overshadowed by the deaths of two UN peacekeepers in an Islamist attack. The polls marked the troubled west African nation’s first steps to recovery after it was upended by a military coup in March last year, finalising a process begun with the election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August. “This second round establishes the recovery on a foundation of legitimacy in this country. It will give us more strength, more power to say ‘Mali’ and that’s what Mali needs,” Keita said after casting his ballot in the capital Bamako. “What has been done has put us in a position to say Mali everywhere with honour and dignity, without any hang-ups.”
People in Mali are being urged to cast off election fatigue and vote Sunday in the fourth nationwide polls in less than six months, amid widespread apathy stoked by fears of Islamist violence. The second round of the country’s parliamentary elections comes three weeks after a poorly attended first, and follows two rounds of voting in July and August which saw Ibrahim Boubacar Keita take office as the troubled west African nation’s president. “There is a feeling that after the election of the president of the republic, it was game over. This is a mistake, but that’s how it is,” said Mamadou Samake, a sociologist and lecturer at the University of Bamako, who told AFP that Malians were “tired of going to vote”. Sunday’s polls, completing Mali’s return to democracy, come during an upsurge in violence by Al-Qaeda-linked rebels who stalk the vast northern desert, an ever-present danger to French and African troops who are tasked with providing security alongside the Malian army.
Mali’s three main political parties secured just 16 seats out of 147 available in the first round of a parliamentary election, provisional results showed on Wednesday. The election, which took place on Sunday amid low turnout and some voting abuses, was meant to complete the West African country’s transition back to democracy after a coup last year led to an Islamist takeover of the north. Militants were later driven out by a French-led invasion but pockets of resistance have remained.
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.
Mali’s presidential election will go to a second round on August 11, the government said Friday, after no candidate secured a majority in the crunch poll which the runner up said was tainted by electoral fraud. Figures for Sunday’s ballot announced on live television showed former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the lead with 39.2 percent of the vote, ahead of main rival Soumaila Cisse with 19.4 percent. But Cisse accused the government of allowing widespread fraud to tarnish the vote after the interior ministry said more than 400,000 ballot papers had been spoiled out of some 3.5 million votes cast.
Expectations of Mali’s presidential election were so low that everyone was pleasantly surprised when the vote passed peacefully with perhaps half of eligible voters participating. With security tight at polling booths Sunday, there were no violent attacks despite threats from an Al Qaeda-linked militia, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa. And, with the country’s peace and stability at stake, the 50% turnout estimated by European Union observers was higher than past election turnouts of around 40%. Turnout in the country’s troubled north, however, was lower. Former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is leading the vote count, according to Malian state-owned television. If he fails to gain more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held next month.
The polls are closed and counting has begun in the presidential election in the West African state of Mali. Observers said they have had no reports of any major incidents in a ballot which is seen as crucial in uniting the country following a coup in March last year. Early reports indicate the turnout was high at the country’s 21,000 polling stations. Government official, Madame Coumare highlighted the importance of the ballot.