Bamako - Officials charged with organising elections in Mali
have expressed doubts over the ability of the war-torn west African nation to
stage a nationwide poll in July.
Mamadou Diamoutani, president of the National Independent
Electoral Commission said late on Thursday that July 7, the date most often mooted
for the first round of a presidential election, "would be a difficult to
He said there were a number of "preconditions" to
meet ahead of July 7, which has not yet been officially announced as the date
for the poll, including the establishment of a comprehensive electoral roll.
Meanwhile the transitional government's director general for
elections, Siaka Sangare, said he did not have "means" to establish
the list in such a tight time frame.
Both spoke on the sidelines of a meeting organised by US
non-governmental organisation the National Democratic Institute in the capital
Bamako to set out the process for elections.
Mali called on France's help in January to halt an Islamist
advance on Bamako and French and African troops have since pushed the al-Qaeda-linked
militants into desert and mountain hideouts, from where they are staging
France has insisted that its former colony needs to hold
presidential elections by July in order to establish the legitimacy of the
The country is led by a transitional administration set up
after a military coup in March last year that toppled the regime of President Amadou
Toumani Toure and precipitated the downfall of the country's north to the
The extremists imposed a brutal version of Islamic sharia
law in Mali's northern cities, leading to a mass exodus of some 400 000
refugees, both abroad and to other parts of the country.
Most have not returned and observers have questioned Mali's
ability to get these people into ballot boxes by July.
Kidal, the third largest city in Mali's vast desert north,
is under the control of the ethnic Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation
of Azawad which refuses to disarm or accept the presence of the Malian army and
has said it will not cooperate in polls without power-sharing talks.