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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs