Mali votes in presidential election amid ongoing violence | News | DW | 29.07.2018
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Mali votes in presidential election amid ongoing violence

With ethnic violence and attacks still regularly occurring, security will be a main issue as Malians head to the polls. Incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will be competing against 23 other candidates for the office.

Polls opened on Sunday in Mali's presidential election in a key electoral test for the Sahel state as it battles extremist and ethnic violence.

Current President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, known as IBK, is looking to secure a second term in office, but faces competition from over a dozen other candidates.

What you need to know about the vote:

  • A total 24 candidates are in the running for the presidency. One woman is among the candidates, businesswoman Kante Djeneba N'diaye.
  • The race is likely to be close between President Keita and opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who previously served as finance minister.
  • Over 8 million out of Mali's 18 million inhabitants are registered to vote in some 23,000 polling stations across the country.
  • Polling stations open at 0800 GMT and will close at 1800. Results are expected within five days.
  • If no candidate gets over 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held on August 12.
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Hope for a better future - Malians to elect new president

Security and education main issues: Keita is hoping to secure a second five-year presidential term following Sunday's vote and no sitting president has ever lost a re-election bid in Mali. However, the 71-year-old's popularity has dropped sharply since the 2013 election, with opponents criticizing him for perceived incompetence on security issues.

During his campaign, Keita sought to emphasize the achievement of a 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government, government-allied groups and former Tuareg rebels to combat jihadi fighters in the northern part of the country.

His main opponent, Cisse, is vying for the presidency for a third time after losing out by a large margin to Keita in the 2013 runoff election. During his campaign, the 68-year-old focused on boosting education and healthcare as a way of combatting poverty and extremism.

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Reuters/A. Sotunde )

Opponents have criticized current President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's security record

Ongoing violence: Violence continues to be a problem in Mali, as separatist and jihadi groups regularly carry out attacks in the north. Over 11,000 security personnel have been deployed to ensure the vote can take place in the more conflict-stricken areas of the country.

Some 15,000 UN peacekeepers and 4,500 French troops are stationed in Mali as well as the G5 Sahel, a five-nation anti-terror force. The country's state of emergency will enter its fourth year in November.

rs/rc (AFP, dpa)

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