News / Africa

Voting Calm in Mali Presidential Poll

People queue to vote in Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu July 28, 2013.
People queue to vote in Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu July 28, 2013.
Anne Look
Voters in Mali cast ballots Sunday for a new president for the first time after a chaotic 18 months that saw a military coup, an Islamist takeover of the north, and French-led military intervention. 

Voting got underway slowly Sunday with polling stations starting to fill up about an hour after they opened. No major issues have been raised, though security remains a key concern in the formerly occupied north.

Short lines of about a dozen people had formed by mid-morning outside polling offices in Bamako's Commune 5.

Voter Toumani Coulibaly said, "The current situation isn't helping anybody. The country can't continue like this, especially with a government that has so little power to work for the people. We need a democratically elected president to get us out of this crisis."

This is only the sixth election Mali has held since independence. Voter turnout has never been more than 40 percent.

High hopes

Some say this election is different.

Voter Amady Diallo said this election is a special case. "We had the war, the coup, the jihadists who invaded the country. We need a legitimate government to fix things. That is why Malians are coming out in mass to vote to get a legitimate president and get Mali out of this rut it is in."

Low voter participation could undermine the authority of this crucial election. Some candidates also expressed concern about fraud in the run-up to the vote, and there are already concerns that results will be contested.

But voters said things appeared to be going smoothly Sunday.

Voter Naba Keita said, "I trust in this election, but authorities need to be vigilant to prevent people from cheating."

Little time to prepare

Mali had just a few short months to prepare for this election. Officials say they did meet their goal of distributing 80 percent of the new biometric voter cards ahead of the vote.

At polling stations in the capital, officials said voting materials were for the most part in place on time, but that some voters were confused about how and where to vote.

Mali's nearly 7 million registered voters are concentrated in the south, but it is in the formerly militant-held towns in the north, however, where authorities fear the most problems.

Security forces are on high alert in Gao, which has been the target of jihadist attacks and suicide bombings since being liberated by French and Malian troops in January.

Forces deployed

French, Malian and U.N. troops are securing the vote nationwide.

Malian forces were able to deploy only to the far northern town of Kidal after June 18 when Mali's interim government struck a makeshift cease-fire deal with MNLA rebels.

Residents of Kidal said voter turnout there was tepid as of mid-day. The region has less than one percent of Mali's registered voters, but its symbolic significance, as the home turf of the separatist Tuareg rebellion, is much greater.

There are 27 candidates on the ballot for this election. If no one wins a clear majority, the two top-scoring candidates will head to a runoff on August 11.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid