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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.