Mali presidential election proceeds to runoff following inconclusive first-round

Mali presidential election proceeds to runoff following inconclusive first-round

Voters look set to return to the polls today in Mali, as no candidate in the first round of presidential

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of Mali and candidate for Rally for Mali party (RPM) walks after casting his vote during the presidential election, at a polling station in Bamako

Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago

Voters look set to return to the polls today in Mali, as no candidate in the first round of presidential elections reached the required 50% threshold.

The candidates are incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and former finance minister Soumaila Cisse in a rematch of the 2013 runoff. In the first round, they received 41.4% and 17.8% of the vote respectively. Neighbouring states in West Africa and allies in Europe and abroad are hoping that the winner will seek to continue a 2015 peace accord between the Mali government and jihadist groups, which is seen as a linchpin in guaranteeing security in the Sahel.

Election observers from the African Union, EU and ECOWAS have highlighted significant voting irregularities in rural communities and some urban areas, which has raised concerns for turnout and fair access to voting stations in the second round. Additionally, a surge in militant activity in remote areas has highlighted the inability of the incumbent government to independently exert control over its own territory. As a result, today’s vote will have long-term ramifications for the security of Mali and the wider West African region.

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