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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid