News / Africa

Malians Hope for Fresh Start Ahead of Sunday Vote

Malians Hope for Fresh Start Ahead of Sunday Votei
X
July 26, 2013 12:37 PM
Mali heads to the polls Sunday for a presidential election that many hope will mark the beginning of the end to more than 18 months of crisis. A lot has gone wrong since January 2012. There was a separatist Tuareg rebellion, a military coup, an Islamist occupation of the north, and a French-led military intervention that is now being transformed into a massive U.N. mission to stabilize the country. VOA's Anne Look reports from Bamako where campaigning wraps up Friday for the country's 27 presidential hopefuls.

Malians Hope for Fresh Start Ahead of Sunday Vote

Anne Look
Mali heads to the polls Sunday for a presidential election that many hope will mark the beginning of the end to more than 18 months of crisis.  A lot has gone wrong since January 2012. There was a separatist Tuareg rebellion, a military coup, an Islamist occupation of the north, and a French-led military intervention that is now being transformed into a massive U.N. mission to stabilize the country. Campaigning wraps up Friday for the country's 27 presidential hopefuls.
 
"A strong Mali; a new Mali; Mali above all; Mali, our pride; the Mali of our ambitions." - the 27 candidates have all been singing pretty much the same tune, pledging to reconcile the country, rebuild and root out corruption.  Mali has never fallen so low, they say, and it must never happen again.
 
Passersby look at a poster supporting presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, with the slogan 'For a strong, just Mali, one and indivisible,' on the first day of campaigning, in Bamako, Mali, July 7, 2013.Passersby look at a poster supporting presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, with the slogan 'For a strong, just Mali, one and indivisible,' on the first day of campaigning, in Bamako, Mali, July 7, 2013.
x
Passersby look at a poster supporting presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, with the slogan 'For a strong, just Mali, one and indivisible,' on the first day of campaigning, in Bamako, Mali, July 7, 2013.
Passersby look at a poster supporting presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, with the slogan 'For a strong, just Mali, one and indivisible,' on the first day of campaigning, in Bamako, Mali, July 7, 2013.
The two top challengers are longtime fixtures on Mali's political scene: former prime minister and current National Assembly deputy from Bamako Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and a technocrat from Timbuktu, Soumaila Cisse. 
 
Keita was the longtime opponent of the president ousted by the coup in March 2012. His track record of fierce nationalism and tough talk have won him points with voters.
 
Keita was the first candidate to campaign in the northern rebel stronghold of Kidal, which will vote Sunday despite ongoing tensions. 
 
"Mali needs to come back together," he told voters. "The fabric of our society has been torn apart.  Mali needs to return to the state of brotherhood and solidarity that it has always been.  This is what I wish for Mali, and, God willing, it is what I will do."
 
Presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse attends a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.Presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse attends a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
x
Presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse attends a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
Presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse attends a campaign rally in Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
His top rival, Soumaila Cisse, was a government minister in the 1990's who then ran the West African Monetary Union for seven years.  Supporters say they trust his experience and management skills. 
 
In a possible run-off, Cisse could have the support of the two other top candidates, or vice versa. They include ex-prime minister and longtime government heavyweight, Modibo Sidibe, and a relative unknown, Dramane Dembele, who is backed by Mali's largest political party.
 
Among the other first-time candidates getting some traction are the lone female candidate, Aichata Chada Haidara, and the mayor of Bamako's Commune IV district, Moussa Mara. 
 
"This country's problems come from bad leadership and bad governance," Mara remarked.  "How do we make it so that the next leader does what he promises, that he involves and informs citizens?  So that the citizen, instead of being just a spectator, becomes an actor in the building of this country?  This is how we will develop Mali." 
 
Mara, at just 38 years old, is one of the youngest candidates -- a not unpopular trait as the country clamors for a fresh start. 
 
"In this country, we need to promote youth leadership," he said. "We need to work in truth and transparency.  We need to learn to respect public wealth and rise above personal interests."
 
Supporters of presidential candidate Cheick Modibo Diarra distribute campaign flyers from the back of a moped as they ride in a campaign caravan through the streets of Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.Supporters of presidential candidate Cheick Modibo Diarra distribute campaign flyers from the back of a moped as they ride in a campaign caravan through the streets of Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
x
Supporters of presidential candidate Cheick Modibo Diarra distribute campaign flyers from the back of a moped as they ride in a campaign caravan through the streets of Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
Supporters of presidential candidate Cheick Modibo Diarra distribute campaign flyers from the back of a moped as they ride in a campaign caravan through the streets of Bamako, Mali, July 20, 2013.
Mali had just a few short months to prepare for this crucial election, and authorities confess that a few corners had to be cut.  
 
Errors on the voter list mean that tens of thousands of registered voters will not be able to vote Sunday.  Issues surrounding the distribution of nearly 7 million biometric voter cards have already sparked rumblings of fraud and irregularities. 
 
If no candidate wins a clear majority, the two top-scoring candidates will head to a runoff on August 11.  

Nick Loomis and Amadou Maiga contributed reporting from Bamako. 

You May Like

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid