The incumbent president of one of Africa's poorest countries, Mali, has been declared the winner of the country's recent presidential election. But, as in several African countries where there have recently been elections, there is growing apathy for the democratic process, and doubt about what the government can deliver in terms of economic progress. Selah Hennessy reports from the VOA West Africa Bureau in Dakar.

President Amani Amadou Toure was a gentleman on voting day, standing aside to let a woman cast her own vote before doing so himself. There was some commotion here, unlike most voting stations. But he did eventually manage to cast his ballot.

Mr. Toure's triumph in the election was no surprise. The former military leader, who calls himself the "soldier of democracy," won a clear victory. It was the fourth democratic election since the end of military rule.

At other polling stations voters seemed somewhat confused about how to vote.

And there was an apathetic mood in much of the capital. Less than 40 percent of the population turned out for the election. Many people saw the re-election of Mr. Toure, who has been in power since 2002, as a foregone conclusion and said they did not see any point in voting.

But Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a rival candidate who was once an ally, is one opposition voice that was heard during the election.

Large crowds listened to his speeches, in which he called for an end to Mr. Toure's-broad-based politics and voiced the need for effective reforms that would improve the lives of the common citizen.

Ibrahima Fadiga is one unemployed man who agrees with Mr. Keita's views. He says no one has enough money to buy food, electricity or water. He says the government makes a lot of false promises. Fadiga is not the only one angry.

Another opposition activist says he is tired of seeing the president erect new monuments and begin new projects, when nothing changes for most people. He says the president should stop making election promises that are only lies. He says the president must be more honest.

It seems there are many speeds to Mali's economy. Overall, growth is above five percent.

Peaceful elections bring aid to the country, hundreds of millions of dollars towards building new roads, schools, and hospitals.

But Mali's problems persist. Little gets built and more than half the adult population remain unemployed.

While democracy is being slowly consolidated in Mali, like in many underdeveloped countries throughout West African countries, large chunks of the population continue to stagnate in idleness and disease.