Mali’s run off vote pits incumbent President Keita against opposition’s Cisse

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MALI-VOTE-POLITICSA man casts his vote next to the head of the European Union Election Observer mission in Mali, Cecile Kyenge (R), at a polling station on August 12, 2018 in Bamako during the counting of the votes after the second round of Mali’s presidential elections. Malians were voting on August 12 in a presidential runoff likely to see the incumbent president returned to office despite criticism of his handling of the country’s security crisis and allegations of election fraud. / AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO

Vote-counting is underway in Mali’s presidential run-off. The incumbent is widely expected to win. But voting has been stained by allegations of fraud, and threats of violence.

Security at the polls is high. CGTN’s Peninah Karibe reports.

Sunday’s polls had low turnout by closing amid attacks and threats of violence by Islamic extremists.

The chairman of Arkodia village in the north Niafunke commune in Timbuktu region was killed, four election workers were physically harassed and the polling station there was burned, according to the Citizen Observation Pool of Mali which had more than 2,000 observers. The organization reported several incidents Sunday.

Two polling stations were burned in Keltamba and election officials were harmed by gunmen in Ngouma commune in central Mali, observers said.

In north and central Mali more than 50 polling stations had closed before noon because of the threats by extremists in those regions, the organization said.

In the polling centers covered by its observers, the organization said the participation rate was about 8.1 percent. It said 14.4 percent participated in Timbuktu, and only 4.8 percent in Bamako.

However, their observers did not cover all voting areas, and the election commission hasn’t yet given its estimate of voter turnout.

In the July 29 first-round presidential vote, extremists killed three election workers and destroyed some voting materials.

Nearly 43 percent of voters made it to the polls last month and at least 671 polling stations were closed. Despite the relatively low turnout officials called the vote well-conducted.

Mali has grown more insecure since Keita beat Cisse in a second round election in 2013.

Story by The Associated Press with additional information from CGTN.