News / Africa

Malian Voters Face Choice Between Keita, Cisse in Sunday Election

Malians Face Choice Between Keita, Cisse on Sundayi
August 09, 2013 2:45 PM
Mali heads to the polls Sunday for a presidential run-off election that many hope will be the turning point in an 18-month crisis that has included a military coup, a takeover of the north by armed groups and a French-led military offensive against the groups this year. There were 27 presidential candidates for the first round on July 28, but just two head to the run-off. VOA's Anne Look has this report from Bamako where the past week has seen political alliances made and un-made.]]
Anne Look
Malians head to the polls Sunday for a presidential run-off election that many hope will be the turning point in an 18-month crisis that has included a military coup, a takeover of the north by armed groups and a French-led military offensive against those groups this year.  Twenty seven presidential candidates were in the first round July 28, but just two are headed to the run-off.  The past week has seen political alliances made and broken.

Two candidates are on the ballot: former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a National Assembly deputy from Bamako, and Soumaila Cisse, a technocrat from Timbuktu.

The men once belonged to the same political party.  They served in government together in the 1990s, with Keita as prime minister and Cisse as finance minister.
Then their paths diverged. Cisse became a steadfast supporter of President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was ousted in a March 2012 coup and is blamed by many Malians for the ongoing crisis.
Keita became Toure's most outspoken critic, something the candidate has underscored on the campaign trail.  He said, "Mali was stolen from us.  That government ate it up and sucked the bones dry.  They humiliated us to the point that people started to ally with the Islamists.  Attention, Malians, that will never happen again."
His campaign has been about big ideals -- nationalism, honor, dignity.  Opponents said he is vague on details.  His supporters say they back the man, not the plan.
Supporter Ali Badra Keita said, "We have become a country in disarray, where everything is permitted so we want a tough leader, and that is IBK."
Keita dominated the first round with 39 percent of the vote.  Most of the 25 candidates eliminated in that round are now backing him, including third-place candidate Dramane Dembele, whose party, ADEMA, is an ally of the rival candidate,  Cisse.
But Malians said they are used to the fickle nature of their political class.  

Cisse supporters like Alhousseini Sow said the race is not over.  "It doesn't matter what alliances politicians are making. Like Cisse says, this is a fresh election.  Voters should be left to make their choices without manipulation or pressure," he said.

Cisse raised concerns about vote-rigging and intimidation in the first round and has called on his supporters to be vigilant.
Ever the financial manager, he talks about investing in Mali's future.  

Cisse told supporters gathered at his headquarters Wednesday, "Even if we win the elections, the battle will be far from over.  We must then rebuild the country.  We must tackle unemployment and poverty.  We need to invest in this country, in agriculture, livestock farming, fishing.  We need to build roads and factories.  We need to create wealth so that each of you can live a happy life."
It is hard to gauge the two candidates' chances.  

Friday is the only real day of campaigning ahead of the vote, following delays in confirming first-round results and a Muslim holiday Thursday.

Amadou Maiga contributed reporting from Bamako.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs