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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs