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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs