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

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
X
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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