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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid