News / Africa

    Mali Prepares to Pick a New President

    A man rides a bicycle past electoral campaign posters in Bamako August 9, 2013.
    A man rides a bicycle past electoral campaign posters in Bamako August 9, 2013.
    Anne Look
    Malians are going to the polls Sunday for a presidential run-off election that will decide who leads the country out of 18 months of unprecedented conflict and political crisis. The final round of campaigning was relatively quiet, in part due to the Eid al-Fitr holiday period.
     
    It was a sleepy end to a 48-hour campaign run for the two candidates, former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse.
     
    The Constitutional Court did not confirm results of last month's first round of voting until Wednesday, eve of the major Muslim holiday celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan, so religion took priority over politics.
     
    Malian presidential candidates, Soumaila Cisse, left, and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, undated file photos.Malian presidential candidates, Soumaila Cisse, left, and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, undated file photos.
    x
    Malian presidential candidates, Soumaila Cisse, left, and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, undated file photos.
    Malian presidential candidates, Soumaila Cisse, left, and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, undated file photos.
    Results indicate Keita dominated the first round of voting with nearly 40 percent of the vote, while Cisse pulled just under 20 percent. Since the July 28 polls, most of the 25 other candidates eliminated in the first round have thrown their support to Keita, including the third place finisher Dramane Dembele.
     
    It was not until Friday evening that caravans of cheering young people on the streets of Bamako announced that the campaign was, at last, on.
     
    Young men, all wearing T-shirts showing their support for Cisse, rolled up to a rally of less than a thousand people.
     
    A youth leader for Cisse's URD party, Moussa Coulibaly, attached an impromptu campaign signboard to a stage, a piece of cardboard with small political fliers of the four parties backing Cisse in the run-off.
     
    The election, the country's first since 2007, is seen as crucial to unlocking nearly $4 billion in promised international aid that was suspended after a military coup last year plunged the country into chaos. The question on the minds of many voters, however, is whether Cisse's support base will be strong enough to propel him past Keita, who has 20 of the 28 first-round candidates backing him, in the run-off.
     
    "Yes, it is enough. We are confident," says Coulibaly. "We have done a lot of mobilization to get voters on our side. We showed them what Soumaila has done and what he wants to do as president."
     
    Keita and Cisse served together in a government in the 1990s, but ended up in opposing camps following the 2002 presidential win by Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown last year in the military uprising. In the chaos that followed, ethnic Tuareg separatists seized towns and cities in Mali's northern desert, with the help of several Islamist groups.
     
    Both in their 60's and long-time fixtures on Mali's political scene, Cisse and Keita, their supporters say, could not be more different.
     
    Cisse, a technocrat from the north, has run a campaign focused on economic recovery, while Keita, the one-time prime minister and former National Assembly president from the south, has focused on restoring Mali's honor and military strength.
     
    Unlike Cisse, Keita did not make any public campaign appearances. His team cancelled a stadium rally planned for Friday, citing security concerns, though they did not elaborate.
     
    A United Nations peacekeeping force of 12,000 troops began providing national security in July, as the last of French forces that earlier this year pushed Islamist groups back into desert areas, continued preparations to leave the country by the end of the year.
     
    Supporters of both men say they are focusing on getting people to actually go out and vote Sunday.
     
    Two dozen women from Keita's RPM party and other allied parties met at party headquarters Friday to retrieve the sample ballots they will use to show people how to firmly place their finger print in the square below the candidate's photo.
     
    Authorities said nearly 400,000 ballots were cast incorrectly during the first round of the election, and so were not counted.
     
    RPM women's leader Aissata Toure says there was not much time for campaigning before the runoff, but she is not worried. "Our candidate is more than visible, and we have voters aplenty," she says, adding that the choice before the voters "is bigger than just our party — it is the Malian people who back our candidate."
     
    The first round saw a record voter turnout of 49 percent. Voting was calm despite concerns of attacks or instability in the formerly rebel- and Islamist-held north.
     
    Amadou Maiga contributed reporting from Bamako; some information was provided by AP and AFP.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora