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

    Video Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    Somalia’s Western backers frustrated over country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security after 25 years of chaos

    Israel Makes Push for Gaza Strip Recovery

    After years of economic blockade and attempts to disable Hamas, Israeli leaders eventually realized that Hamas’ downfall could lead to chaos or the rise of a more radical Jihadist group

    Slump in Chinese Tourists Hitting Hong Kong Retail

    Mainland Chinese account for up to three-quarters of visitors to Hong Kong, but that number is falling, and shopping centers are struggling to 'shift gears' and maintain sales

    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.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora