Polls closed in a run-off presidential election in Mali
Polls closed in a run-off presidential election in Mali but observers reported that turnout was low, with several polling stations coming under attack from armed men and one election official killed.
Iran press/Africa: According to Reuters,Thousands of soldiers were mobilised to provide security following an inconclusive first round last month that was marred by militant attacks and opposition accusations of fraud.
The Mali Citizen Observation Pool (POCIM) said there had been a “persistent climate of tension in some polling centers in Segou, Bamako and several other localities” in the run-off.
Despite problems, the election had generally being conducted well, European Union observers said in preliminary comments.
Incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 73, is expected to win a second term even though he has been unable to stem a surge in ethnic and militant violence.
However opposition challenger Soumalia Cisse, 68, a former finance minister, said he was confident of victory but also accused the government camp of trying to stuff ballot boxes.
Mali is high on the list of Western powers’ security concerns, and a respectable election is important in the effort to restore stability to the vast West African nation.
Mali is also a major transit route for illegal migrants trying to reach Europe, a concern in European Union capitals.
For Malians the election is about securing peace but also alleviating hardship and poverty.
Results from the first round took five days to emerge and authorities have not said when they expect the run-off result to be announced.
Cisse, who lost against Keita in 2013, said he was confident of victory when he voted in his hometown Niafunke. “We travelled across the whole country and we found an extremely strong desire for change everywhere,” he said.
Cisse also accused the other side of cheating, saying in Bamako they had found people before the vote who already had ballot papers.
Cisse, who blames Keita for the worsening violence and accuses his government of rampant corruption, also alleged fraud in the first round but the constitutional court upheld the result.