Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Malians go to polls in watershed polls

29 July 2013, 10:05

Bamako - Mali voted on Sunday for a new president in a bid to usher in peace and stability in the first election since a military coup helped plunge the country into chaos.

Voters chose from 27 candidates to lead the nation from the crisis ignited by last year's mutiny, which allowed Islamists to seize the vast desert north before a French-led military intervention dislodged them earlier this year.

Preliminary results collated by journalists in polling stations after the end of voting suggested that former premier Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had taken a clear early lead.

The unofficial projection, based on the accounts of reporters watching counts across the country, indicates that Keita, 69, could even cause an upset and win the first round outright.

His supporters were already celebrating in the capital Bamako outside his party headquarters, as news of his apparent lead was broadcast on local radio.

French President Francois Hollande welcomed the smooth running of the vote, "marked by a good turnout and an absence of any major incident".

Voting stations opened at 08:00 under heavy security.

A day earlier, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the main armed groups linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), had threatened to "strike" polling stations. There were no reports of serious incidents, however.

After casting his ballot in Bamako, acting president Dioncounda Traore, who was not running in the election, called on all candidates to respect the outcome.

Peaceful conditions

"I am very satisfied with the general conditions in terms of the organisation of the elections," he said.

The APEM Network, an independent Malian organisation that deployed 2,100 observers across the nation, reported a strong turn-out among the country's electorate of almost seven million.

Louis Michel, chief of the European Union election observation mission, told reporters after voting ended: "Overall everything went well. There was the enthusiasm among voters".

A spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton welcomed the peaceful conditions in which voting had taken place.

In a polling station at a school in Bamako, hundreds of voters queued for more than an hour to cast their ballots.

"We are tired of bad governance. I'd urge the candidates to accept the results of our vote," said machine operator Kalifa Traore, 56.

 'Mali will be the real winner'

Voting in the restive north also passed off peacefully.

In Gao, northern Mali's largest city, dozens lined up to vote in a school near Independence Square. During the Islamist occupation it had been renamed "Sharia Square".

In the northern desert town of Timbuktu, polls went ahead after initial problems with organisation, with many unable to find their names on voting lists.

Much of the worry ahead of the polls had been focused on Kidal. It was occupied for five months by Tuareg separatists until a ceasefire accord allowed the Malian army to provide security earlier this month.

Ethnic clashes between Tuaregs and black Africans in the run-up to the election left four people dead.

And gunmen thought to be from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) kidnapped five polling officials 200km north of Kidal.

The ballot is the first since the military mutiny in March last year that toppled democratically-elected president Amadou Toumani Toure.

The ensuing confusion helped the MNLA, MUJAO and other groups allied with al-Qaeda to seize northern Mali.

A UN peacekeeping force was deployed to Mali earlier this month. The deployment, which will reach 12 600 by the end of the year, allows France to start withdrawing most of its 4 500 troops, who arrived there in January to stop the Islamists from advancing towards Bamako.

Among the candidates, Keita is seen as the frontrunner. His main rival is thought to be Soumaila Cisse, a former chairman of the Commission of the West African Monetary Union.

"This election will help us forget the nightmare," Keita said after voting. "We will have a head of state elected without ambiguity," he continued, adding that he felt confident of success.

Cisse urged Malians to "turn the page" and "restore peace to republican institutions".

An official announcement on the first-round result is not expected until Friday, but if no candidate wins an overall majority then a second round run-off between the top two contenders will be held on 11 August.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...