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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid