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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs