Malians look set to vote again on 12 August to choose their president from the two remaining candidates. The run-off will see President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (known as IBK) go up against Soumaila Cisse for the second time in five years. In the first round of Mali’s presidential election on 29 July, IBK officially won 41.4% of the vote. Cisse came a distant second with 17.8%. However, the poll was marred by widespread allegations of corruption, rigging and vote-buying. Activists and party members allege various incidents of fraud and ballot-box stuffing. Cisse’s campaign director, for example, claimed there is a “village of 150 inhabitants where 3,000 people voted”. Citizen observers in Kayes region say voters were seen standing in line to receive fertiliser after casting their votes, while some in Bamako were reportedly offered tens of dollars to vote a certain way. In the north, where there is little security, rumours abound that the ruling party conspired with militant groups to rig the vote.
Additionally, the Malian government announced that around 871 polling stations – nearly 4% of the total – had to be shut down due to armed attackers. Rockets were reportedly fired at a UN base in the northeast. It also reported that 20% of all polling stations were affected by violence, mostly in the centre and north, and that around 250,000 people were unable to vote. Turnout was typically low at 43%.
In the face of allegations of fraud and considerable operational problems, 18 of the 24 presidential candidates have refused to accept the first-round results. They have additionally called for the Minister of Territorial Administration and Cecentralisation Mohamed Ag Erlaf to resign for committing “electoral robbery”. Cisse along with third-placed Aliou Boubacar Diallo and fourth-placed Cheick Modibo Diarra have all filed complaints with the constitutional court.
The court’s nine judges must reach a verdict by Wednesday 8 August.