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Former US Ambassador: Mali Vote Can Help Restore Stability

A boy sits in front of an electoral campaign poster for Malian presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in Timbuktu, Mali, July 25, 2013.
The former top U.S. diplomat for Africa says Mali's presidential election will not be "perfect" but is important in restoring democracy and stability.

Former assistant secretary of state for African affairs Johnnie Carson tells VOA that delaying the vote would not serve the country's interests. He said it would only help entrench those currently in power.

Malians will cast ballots Sunday in the country's first presidential election since soldiers toppled President Amadou Toure last year. Islamists took advantage of the political turmoil to take over northern Mali, only to be driven out by French and Malian forces earlier this year.

A government led by interim President Dioncounda Traore currently rules Mali.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Thursday that the United States encourages all Malians to take full advantage of the chance to express their will through the ballot box.

Carson said Mali's new leadership will need to establish control over government institutions and address grievances that contributed to last year's unrest.