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Run-off in Mali

Susan Houlton (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
August 2, 2013

The Malian presidential race is now down to two contenders. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Soumalia Cisse will face each other in a run-off on 11 August. The poll is an important step in the process of restoring stability.

Poeple sitting on a cart looking at an election poster ((Photo:KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)

The announcement that there will be a run-off election was made on Friday (02.08.2013) by the Malian Electoral Commission. Former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, commonly known as IBK, won the first round and former finance minister Soumaila Cisse came in second. The two will take part in a run-off election to be held on 11 August. Under Malian law, Friday was the deadline for the announcement of results.

IBK will go into the run-off with a comfortable lead under his belt. The first results gave him 39.2 percent of the vote, with Soumaila Cisse notching up 19.4 percent. The candidate of Mali's largest party Alliance for Democracy in Mali, ADEMA, Dramane Dembele came in with around 9.6 per cent.

A young supporter of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Photo: BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
68-year-old IBK also attracted young voters with his promise of a better futureImage: Boureima Hama/AFP/Getty Images

The 46-year-old Dembele was mainly chosen by the party with a view to attracting the youth vote. But his relatively youthful age may well have been overshadowed by the feeling held by many Malians that ADEMA was central to years of misrule that led to the crisis.

Turnout for the first round on Sunday 28 July was put at 51.4 percent which is high for Mali as previous elections saw a maximum of 40 percent of the electorate take part.

May the best man win

The announcement of a run-off should ease tensions that had risen when partial results gave Keita a large lead and he seemed to be on track for an outright victory after one round. Cisse said he would reject the election result if there were no second round of voting.

The news was welcomed by Cisse's supporters, says DW's correspondent in Bamako Katrin Gänsler. "The will of the people of Mali has been accepted, they came out massively to vote and they have ensured there will be a run-off," one man told her. "We are democrats" said another, "and we say, may the winner be the person who is best for Mali."

Soumaila Cisse (Photo: Katrin Gänsler)
Soumaila Cisse is a former chairman of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary UnionImage: DW/K.Gänsler

For IBK's supporters, there is no doubt who that should be. They regard the run-off as an unnecessary delay and think Cisse will have no chance. "There's no need for another round, but if that's what the authorities say, then we accept that," one of them told Gänsler.

68-year-old Keita, who has twice lost presidential elections, ran a campaign "for the honor of Mali" building on the sentiment that the country was humiliated by the ease with which Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants swept through the north last year in the aftermath of a coup by junior army officers that toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure.

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