Mali election: Presidential polls held amid security concerns

World Today

Security men stand guard in front of a polling stationSecurity men stand guard in front of a polling station during the Presidential elections in Bamako, Mali, Sunday, July 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed)

Mali is hoping to end years of instability that turned it from one of West Africa’s most stable countries into one of the most dangerous. And it is expected to do so through the second presidential election since a coup in 2012. Amid security concerns, it holds the presidential polls. CGTN’s Peninah Karibe reports from Bamako.

The presidential election has been described as a high stakes one in which incumbent Boubacar Keita is hoping to get a second term. Despite security concerns in the country, the electoral commission is promising a smooth vote: Security has been tight across the country for this vote, with 30,000 security personnel deployed.

“I know people are saying Kidal and Timbukutu are insecure but the information I have is that voting is going on smoothly,” said election observer, Jean Marie Ngondjibangte. “There have been no incidents reported so far in those regions.”

The turn-out rate is typically below 50 percent in Mali. But as the day wore on, queues lengthened in Bamako.

Malians wait to cast their ballot during the Presidential elections in Bamako, Mali, Sunday, July 29, 2018. Voting started slowly Sunday as people in Mali head to the polls to vote for a president amid increasing attacks by a number of extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State organization. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed)

Many voters said that their votes were important for the future of Mali.

 They also hailed the process as smooth and well organised. As one voter commented, this had been the most organized election he witnessed in Mali.  

Regardless, there were some issues with tracking down voter cards in some polling stations, too.”I came to vote and I was hoping I would get my voters card in the room where I’m supposed to vote but I was told to come here instead to collect. I wish they could distribute the voters cards to the various rooms where people are voting because they have lists of our names and where we are supposed to vote. I hope in future they will be better organised,”said one voter.

The first election results are expected by Tuesday. If no outright winner emerges, the country will go to a second round of voting in August.