Preliminary results of Sunday’s presidential election aren’t expected until later this week, but officials in Mali have issued a first assessment of the voting process.
The polls were closed at 716 stations for various reasons, many of them because of violence in the country’s north and central regions. Incidents included polling sites that were burned down by suspected jihadists, and locations where they were ransacked and workers were assaulted.
Fears of unrest were expected to suppress voter turnout, with an NGO estimate of 37 percent but as yet no formal numbers released from the Ministry of Territorial Administration, which oversees Mali elections.
The compromised polling stations where voting was prevented accounted for slightly more than 3 percent of the total, the government said in a statement. There were few issues in other regions.
“This good progress, we owe it to the political maturity of the Malian people,” the government said, praising the slate of 24 candidates for their patriotism in putting Mali ahead of their partisan divisions.
EPM candidate and incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is expected to win a second five-year term, and his campaign expressed confidence in that outcome. Meanwhile, main opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse and the URD party said they were sure that Mali was headed for a runoff election, and complained of “numerous irregularities and serious failures, which will undeniably weigh on the final result.”
That runoff will be on August 12 if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.
An African Union election observer mission, led by former president of Benin Thomas Yayi Boni, was on hand to monitor the polls with a team of representatives from 19 member nations. They were joined by observers from the European Union and ECOWAS, the 15-member West African regional body.
Image: African Union