The people of Mali went to the polls Sunday to elect their president from among eight major candidates, including incumbent President Amadou Toumani Toure who is seeking a second five-year term.
Malians living in the United States also voted Sunday at the Malian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Youssouf Toure, the son of President Toumani Toure and Boubacar Keita, the son of opposition candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, both spoke to VOA during the polling First, the young Toure explained why his father should be re-elected.
“He overthrew the former dictator president, and after that he gave power to the civilians in order to bring democracy to our country. In many African countries, once people got the power in their hand, they usually don’t give it up. I think that’s one point for which people should vote for him and the program that he has for the next five years,” he said.
But Boubacar Keita, the son of opposition candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, disagreed. He said fighting corruption is one of the changes his father would bring to Mali if he were elected president.
“We'd like to develop the country a whole lot more since we are a poor country. We’d like to put an end to corruption. It’s true we cannot put a complete end to it, but we can refrain people from doing it. School is really bad. We’re supposed to have nine months of school, but we only have four. So we are going to change that too,” the young Keita said.
The young Toure disagreed that corruption has been rampant during his father’s rule. Instead he said the level of corruption during President Toumani Toure’s rule is far too low compared to the six years that challenger Boubacar Keita was prime minister of Mali.
“There’s corruption all over the world, not in our country only. But it’s really low now. Of course, the other candidate he used to be the prime minister of our country for six years. So if you compare my father’s term and their term, I think there was more corruption in the country,” the young Toumani said.
He said president Toumani has brought more democracy to Mali any other president.
“I think there is more democracy. People can say whatever they want to. They criticize the president. For example, even the other candidates, they always criticize him, but he never gets back to them. So I think that’s a good sign of democracy,” said the young Toure.
There were two polling stations set up at the Malian Embassy, one on the first floor called Bureau One, and the other in the basement called Bureau Two.
Hanging on the wall and overlooking the voting process on the first floor was a huge picture of President Toure. Young Keita said he was not intimidated to vote in the embassy.
“Not really. I mean even if it were back home, it would be the same thing. It’s the administration doing the vote, so it wouldn’t change anything. I’m here today and trying my best so that nobody would cheat. He’s our president until June eighth, and we’re going to make a change because we’re planning on winning,” the young Keita said.