News / Africa

Mali's 27 Presidential Candidates, a Mix of Old and New Faces

A woman holding a baby searches for her name on a list of eligible voters at an election center in Bamako, July 23, 2013.
A woman holding a baby searches for her name on a list of eligible voters at an election center in Bamako, July 23, 2013.
Anne Look
Mali goes to the polls Sunday to choose a new president. There are 27 candidates on the ballot. It's a mix of long-time political heavyweights and relative newcomers. There are several clear frontrunners, almost all of whom have held high-level government posts. 

Mali is now a year and a-half into an unprecedented crisis. A new Tuareg rebellion kicked off in the north in January 2012 followed by a military coup in the south two months later. Jihadist groups then occupied the north until they were pushed out by a French-led military intervention that began in January of this year and is now being transformed into a massive U.N. mission.

Some in Mali blame those who led the country over the past decade for getting them into this mess. Others say the country needs an experienced leader to get them through it.

Former officials in the running

Presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks at a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 21, 2013.Presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks at a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 21, 2013.
x
Presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks at a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 21, 2013.
Presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks at a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 21, 2013.
The crisis has shuffled things around a bit politically, and no one is ruling out any surprises in Sunday's vote. However, the candidate field is dominated by former ministers and prime ministers, like Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

IBK, as he is more commonly known by his initials, was a longtime opponent of ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure, also know by his initials ATT.

Keita served as president of the National Assembly until 2007. He has built a reputation for tough talk and fierce nationalism, which appears to be resonating with voters.

He told VOA that too much is at stake for the old ways of governing to continue. 

He says Malians have a choice: Who is capable of making these big decisions that the country needs? He says who is credible and not corrupt? He says we cannot put this job into dirty hands. He says I will have zero tolerance for corruption, and people know me in this country - what I say, I do.

Other ex-prime ministers among the favorites are Soumana Sacko and Modibo Sidibe.

Sacko is an economist known for his work with international development agencies. Sidibe is a policeman by training. He was close to the now ousted president Toure and served as his prime minister until 2011.

Similar platforms

The 27 candidates are all promising pretty much the same things. At the top of the list are national reconciliation and an overhaul of the army, as well as fighting corruption and creating jobs.

Presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse attends a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.Presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse attends a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
x
Presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse attends a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
Presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse attends a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
Another key frontrunner is Soumaila Cisse, a technocrat from the Timbuktu region who served in the government of Oumar Konare in the 90s and then chaired the West African Monetary Union for seven years until 2011.

His supporters say they trust his track record.

One of his supporters, Amady Diallo, says Cisse has held a lot of posts and he has managed them well. He has experience.

A vendor walks past a shop decorated with election posters supporting presidential candidate Dramane Dembele, in the central market area of Timbuktu, Mali, July 22, 2013.A vendor walks past a shop decorated with election posters supporting presidential candidate Dramane Dembele, in the central market area of Timbuktu, Mali, July 22, 2013.
x
A vendor walks past a shop decorated with election posters supporting presidential candidate Dramane Dembele, in the central market area of Timbuktu, Mali, July 22, 2013.
A vendor walks past a shop decorated with election posters supporting presidential candidate Dramane Dembele, in the central market area of Timbuktu, Mali, July 22, 2013.
Another top contender is Dramane Dembele, a geologist with limited government experience but the support of the country's largest political party, ADEMA.

ADEMA has been racked by internal divisions for years. The choice of a relative outsider appears to have been no accident. 

Dembele calls himself the "new blood" the country needs.

Asked about his limited experience, Dembele says he works as part of a collective, a team, and it is that team that will win.

There are a few other first-time presidential candidates creating a buzz.

Moussa Mara is one of the youngest candidates at just 38 years old. He has been a rising star on Mali's political scene since being elected the mayor of Bamako's Commune IV in 2009.

One women on ballot

The only woman on the ballot, Aichata Chada Haidara, is a National Assembly representative from the northern town of Bourem. She rose to prominence last year for her outspoken condemnation of Tuareg rebels and Islamists occupying the north.

She has pledged, among other things, to get more women into government.

She says why are there not more female candidates for the presidency? Women should step up. She says women should believe in themselves and they should fight for it because it is too easy to just sit there and say it should be given to them. She says you have to go get it.

If no candidate wins a clear majority in Sunday's vote, the two top-scoring candidates will head to a runoff on August 11.

Amadou Maiga contributed reporting in Bamako. 

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid