13 August 2018

Mali Waits for Results After High-Security Presidential Runoff Vote

Photo: RFI/Gaëlle Laleix
Eager voters at a polling station.

One election worker was killed and a number of polling stations had to be closed for the second round of voting to choose a new president for the troubled African state. UN peacekeepers remain watchful.

Vote counting was underway across Mali on Monday following a runoff vote that pitted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita against the country's main opposition leader, Soumaila Cisse.

Observers reported a low turnout in Sunday's second round.

Several polling stations were attacked by armed men and one election official was killed. Three election workers were killed in the preliminary round two weeks ago.

After casting his vote on Sunday in Mali's northern Niafunke region, Cisse told DW: "I vote with full confidence because we did an incredible campaign, particularly here in Niafunke. ... Malians want change, they want another future and hope. This is why I am happy to be here. I am happy because I am confident in the vote which takes place today."

UN troops targeted

The United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) base in the northeast of the country came under rocket fire during the first round of voting. Some 15,000 United Nations peacekeepers are stationed in Mali, including 1,000 troops from Germany.

UN peacekeepers in Mali are monitoring compliance with a 2015 peace agreement between the government and an alliance of Tuareg-led rebels. But Islamist terror groups such as AQIM continue to carry out attacks making MINUSMA one of the UN's most dangerous military involvements.

Just 40 percent of voters took part in the first round of the presidential elections which were disrupted by violence, forcing about a fifth of polling stations to close, despite the deployment of 30,000 security personnel throughout the country.

Keita won 41 percent of the July vote against nearly 18 percent for Cisse, a former finance minister. The runoff was called after both candidates fell short of the 50 percent threshold needed to win.

Despite problems, the runoff had generally being conducted well, European Union observers said in preliminary comments.

Results are expected within five days.

kw, jm (AFP, Reuters)

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