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Mali: Keita declared victor after disputed vote

August 16, 2018

Mali electoral officials have named President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita the winner of a poll marred by violence and accusations of fraud. Opposition leader Soumaila Cisse had already called on his supporters to "rise up."

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita casting his vote in Bamako
Image: Getty Images/AFP/I. Sanogo

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won 67.17 percent of the vote in the tense presidential runoff, electoral officials in the Ministry of Territorial Administration said on Thursday. According to the results, Keita won his second term by securing more than twice as many votes as his rival and former finance minister Soumaila Cisse, who managed to score 32.83 percent of the electorate.

Even before the results were announced, however, Cisse had vowed to reject them and called on his supporters to "rise up." Cisse and other opposition leaders accused the government of stuffing ballot boxes in both the initial vote on July 29, and the Sunday runoff.

"We have a large lead," the 68-year-old Cisse said on Monday from his Bamako headquarters. "We will not accept that a president wins through fraud."

He also pledged to demonstrate vote rigging, a charge which Keita denies.

Soumaila Cisse wags a finger after conceding defeat in 2013
Cisse ran against Keita and lost in 2013Image: Getty Images/I. Sanogo

"This fight is in your hands, dear supporters," he added.

One election worker was killed and many polling stations were forced closed due to violence on Sunday, despite Mali'smobilizing a massive 42,000-strong security force to keep the peace on election day. In addition to political and ethnically motivated violence, Mali has also been facing a sharp increase in Islamist attacks, with jihadist factions reportedly regrouping after French military intervention in 2013.

UN peacekeepers came under rocket fire during the first presidential bout in July.

This year's vote is the third time Cisse is facing off against the 73-year-old Keita. Both politicians ran for president in 2002, with Cisse closely beating Keita in the first round of voting, but then losing to Amadou Toumani Toure in the second round.

In 2013, both Cisse and Keita made it to the runoff, with Keita securing more votes and taking the office of president.

Mali opposition alleges fraud

dj/xx (AP, dpa, Reuters)