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.”
There were no serious incidents during 10 hours of voting but polling stations were reporting turnout as low as 15 percent as voters were scared away by a recent upsurge in rebel attacks against African troops tasked with election security alongside French and Malian soldiers.
Two Senegalese UN peacekeepers were killed and seven wounded on Saturday when a suicide bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into a bank they were guarding in the northeastern rebel bastion of Kidal.