News / Africa

    Mali, Mauritania to Hold Legislative Elections

    A statue of a hippopotamus is covered with election posters at a traffic circle in Bamako, Mali, Nov. 19, 2013.
    A statue of a hippopotamus is covered with election posters at a traffic circle in Bamako, Mali, Nov. 19, 2013.
    Anne Look
    Mali and Mauritania go to the polls this weekend for legislative elections.  Both countries are trying to put the finishing touches on post-coup democratic transitions.  However, security concerns in Mali and an opposition boycott in Mauritania have raised concerns of more instability ahead. 

    Mauritania holds parliamentary and municipal elections on Saturday.  Malians vote for their new National Assembly deputies on Sunday.

    Campaigning in both countries has been subdued.

    These are Mauritania's first legislative and local elections since a 2008 military coup.  Coup leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was elected president in 2009. 

    Tensions have since climbed between the ruling party and the lead opposition coalition, and these elections were postponed several times.

    All but one of the 11 parties in the Coordination for Democratic Opposition are boycotting Saturday's vote, which they have called a "masquerade."  Opposition protestors clashed with security forces in the capital, Nouakchott, on Monday.

    The only main opposition party contesting this race is the recently legalized Islamist party, Tewassoul, which is associated with Mauritania's Muslim Brotherhood.

    Analysts said the boycott could backfire on the opposition ahead of next year's presidential race.

    Mauritanian political analyst Cheikh Mohamed Horma said, "these elections are supposed to be about finding a solution to a political crisis that has lasted several years but that has failed. Instead," he said, "the elections could just make things worse."

    Campaigning is also wrapping up across the border in Mali.

    It's been almost two years since that country plunged into crisis.  A Tuareg rebellion kicked off in the north, followed by a chaotic military coup in the south.  Al-Qaida-linked Islamist groups took over the north for nine months until French and African troops intervened alongside the Malian army.

    The presidential elections this July and August went off without major incident.  Voter turnout reached a record high.  Longtime opposition figure Ibrahim Boubacar Keita became Mali's new president and promised a "new era" for the country.

    However, Malians said it's going to take more to restore their faith in politicians.  Many are predicting a low turnout for Sunday's vote.

    A man in Bamako said they hoped there would be a lot of change at the National Assembly, that it would no longer just be a place where people show up to check in and check out and that instead the new representatives would work hard.

    Security remains a top concern for voting in the north where French, Malian and U.N. troops continue to hunt remaining Islamist fighters who have struck back with deadly suicide attacks.

    Rockets were fired on the northern town of Gao on Thursday, just three days before the vote.

    The situation in the far northern town of Kidal remains especially tense.  Kidal is the stronghold of Tuareg separatist group, the MNLA.

    There have been sporadic clashes between MNLA fighters and Malian soldiers since a June ceasefire deal.  Two French journalists reporting in Kidal were kidnapped and killed this month.  Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility.

    (Mohammed Beddy contributed to this story from Nouakchott, Mauritania.)

    You May Like

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora