No party has won an absolute majority in Mali’s parliamentary elections, triggering a second round of voting. The polls were to mark Mali’s transition to democracy, but the low turnout has left many disappointed.
Provisional results released Wednesday show that Mali's three main political parties secured just 16 seats out of 147 available in the first round of a parliamentary election on November 24.
Malians will vote again on December 15 in the constituencies where there was no majority winner.
Turnout in the Sunday poll reached 38.4 percent, "far short of our expectations,” said Minister of Territorial Administration Moussa Sinko Coulibaly on Wednesday.
The election turnout also fell short of that for a runoff presidential election in July, which saw Malians elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to lead the country. Some 50 percent of voters were recorded as having voted in that poll.
Although voting was largely peaceful across much of the country, polls were under heavy security, amid fears of reprisal attacks from Islamist militants. The north of the country was of particular concern, with al Qaeda-linked militants still active in the region.
A secessionist Tuareg uprising in the north of the country led to a military coup in March 2012 and the overthrow of President Amadou Toumani Toure. The Tuareg seized control of an area larger than France in the chaos that followed, only to be ousted by al Qaeda-linked Islamist groups. They, in turn, were driven out by a French-led ground and air offensive in January 2013, but have more recently resumed activity.
Dozens of Malian and Chadian soldiers in the United Nations' MINUSMA peacekeeping mission have been killed in the country's north in recent months.
hc/rg (Reuters, AFP, AP)