Sunday's parliamentary elections in Mali went off peacefully. Early reports say turn-out was low. The European Union has called the polls "a success".
Mali's capital Bamako remained calm on Monday as people waited for the outcome of Sunday's polls. "One day after the elections, it is rather quiet in Bamako. People were very interested in the presidential elections in August, but they weren't that interested in the parliamentary elections now," said DW's reporter in Bamako, Anja Köhler.
More than 6 million people across the country were allowed to elect 147 Members of Parliament. "It is the duty of the citizens to vote, that's why I went to cast my ballot. I am hoping for a parliamentarian who respects the rule law and one who will vote for good laws without compromise", a voter in the capital Bamako told DW's French Service correspondent Yaya Konaté.
Low voter turn-out
Figures from election observers indicate that the turnout would be lower than that of the presidential elections, which were held in August 2013. Observers from the ECOWAS regional bloc reported that at two polling stations only around a tenth of registered voters had cast their ballots by midday Sunday. But turnout had risen to 16.5 percent by the close of voting in other poling stations, which were also monitored by ECOWAS.
On Monday, European Union observers hailed the vote as "another success". The head of the EU observer mission, Louis Michel, paid tribute to the "success of the organization of elections, particularly with regard to the logistical, material and human conditions that prevailed during voting operations".
Ballot boxes stolen
Despite the positive remarks from elections observers, reports from the north of Mali indicate that the elections did not pass off without irregularities. Officials in polling stations near the city of Timbuktu reported the theft of ballot boxes, several of which were removed by an elected official and at least one was taken by an unidentified armed gang. In the town of Talataye, Tuareg separatists destroyed ballot boxes and chanted "No vote, we want independence", according to the AFP news agency. Other separatists also smashed car windows in the northern town of Kidal, injuring at least one person.
Observers said these were isolated incidences. "Troops were on high alert across Mali, but they found that most of the country was peaceful," DW's Anja Köhler reported. Besides the Malian army, UN peacekeepers kept watch across the country and at polling stations, outnumbering voters in many cases.
A milestone on the road to democracy?
Experts are cautiously optimistic that the polls have helped to put Mali back on the road to democracy. "The majority of the country is on the right track and despite the low turnout in these elections, things are moving in the right direction," Alasdair Reid, Africa Analyst at the AKE group, told DW.
According to the constitution, a second round of elections will be required on December 15th if no party manages to form a government. Reid is convinced, however, that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's Rally for Mali party (RPM) will try to form a coalition government if it fails to win enough seats to govern on its own. "There may be a bit of juggling and potentially an alliance with another large group like ADEMA, which is the second largest party at the moment", he told DW.