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Mali's Amadou Toumani Toure Heads to Second Term


The incumbent has been declared the winner in recent elections in one of the world's poorest countries, Mali. Saturday, the country's constitutional court declared Amadou Toumani Toure the winner with over 71 percent of the vote. But as in several other countries in Africa where there have been recent elections, there is growing apathy for the democratic process, and for what government can deliver in terms of economic progress. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our West Africa bureau.

On voting day, was a gentleman. He let a woman vote before him, before he cast his own ballot. At the only polling station where there was much commotion, President Toure finally got to perform his duty.

The result was a foregone conclusion. The man who bills himself as the soldier of democracy won easily.

Elsewhere on voting day on April 29th, there was some confusion about how to vote. There was also a general sense of apathy, in this the fourth democratic election since the end of military rule.

Turnout was less than 40 percent.

Many said there was no doubt President Toure, a former military leader back in power since 2002, would win again.

But during the campaign, a former ally and rival candidate, Assembly Speaker Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, attracted large crowds. He called for an end to Mr. Toure's broad-based politics and the start of effective reforms for the common man.

His message seemed to strike a chord with many unemployed men, including Ibrahima Fadiga. He says no one has enough money to buy food, electricity, water. He says all the government promises are false.

The opposition pulled out all the stops to build on frustration also shared by this man, Ali Babily. He said he was ashamed Mali is 175th out of 178 countries in the human development index, even after war-torn Sierra Leone and Liberia. He said people had hope in the new government, but that now everyone is disappointed.

It seems there are several speeds to Mali's economy. Overall, growth is above five percent.

Peaceful elections attract hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to build new roads, schools and hospitals. But little gets built, and unemployment is still a grim reality, affecting more than half the adult population.

Many young people face an uncertain future of idleness and disease. It seems Mali, like many parts of West Africa, is slowly consolidating democracy but still stagnant in under-development.

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