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

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