Tags: mali | poll | voters | election

Following Tumult, Malians Head to Polls

By    |   Monday, 29 Jul 2013 04:53 PM

Voters in Mali went to the polls to elect a new president Sunday following a tumultuous 18-month period which included a military coup, heavy fighting between government forces and ethnic Tuareg separatists, and French military intervention against an al-Qaida-linked insurgency.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault praised the election as a great success that should give Mali "every chance" to become a democratic independent nation.

There were 27 candidates on the presidential ballot, with former Prime Minister Ibrahim Keita, 68, the apparent favorite. Keita, who has twice lost presidential elections, ran as the candidate who could salvage the nation’s honor, building on the sentiment that the nation was humiliated by the ease with which the Taureg rebels and Islamist forces swept through Mali last year, the Independent Online reported.

An outcome is expected as early as tomorrow.

Critics say the organization of the vote was rushed. Some people had trouble finding their correct polling place, and there were reports that some Malians outside the country were not able to vote.

As night fell and election officials counted ballots by lamplight, individual polling offices at the Nyarkolo center - the largest one in Bamako, the capital – said turnouts ranged as high as 65 percent, the Voice of America reported.

In Mali, no presidential election has ever had more than 40 percent turnout, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

In Bamako, voter Amady Diallo said this election is "special."

"We had the war, the coup, the jihadists who invaded the country. We need a legitimate government to fix things," Diallo said. "That is why Malians are coming out in mass to vote to get a legitimate president and get Mali out of this rut it is in."

Voter turnout was reported to be enthusiastic in Gao, recaptured from jihadist forces in late January. But further north, in the ethnic Tuareg rebel stronghold of Kidal, the number of ballots cast by midday was in the single digits for polling offices with hundreds of registered voters.








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Voters in Mali went to the polls to elect a new president Sunday following a tumultuous 18-month period which included a military coup, heavy fighting between government forces and ethnic Tuareg separatists, and French military intervention against an al-Qaida-linked...
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Monday, 29 Jul 2013 04:53 PM
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