News / Africa

Malian Voters Face Choice Between Keita, Cisse in Sunday Election

Malians Face Choice Between Keita, Cisse on Sundayi
X
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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs