Officials in Mali have announced that Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is the new leader, confirming that the ex-Prime Minister had won a landslide victory.
Figures for Sunday’s second round of voting were announced on live television by the Interior Minister, showing that Mr. Keita had won an overwhelming 77.6 percent of the vote, with his rival Soumalia Cisse gaining 22.4 percent. According to Interior Minister Sinko Coulibaly, the turnout for the presidential elections was recorded at 45.8 percent, while just 93,000 ballots were spoiled, compared with 400,000 in the first round. Former Finance Minister Cisse had already conceded the run-off vote to Mr. Keta after it became apparent on Monday morning that victory was beyond his grasp. The 68-year-old will now oversee more than US $4 billion (£2.6 billion) in foreign aid promised to rebuild the country after a turbulent eighteen months. The new government which he will lead will also be obliged to open peace talks with the separatist Tuareg rebels within two months following a ceasefire that enabled voting to take place in the northern regions of the country. Cementing national reconciliation will likely be a challenge for the newly formed government as many in the southern regions of the country continue to be hostile towards funneling more of Mali’s already scarce resources to a region they see as being responsible for the country’s plight. In turn, there is a continued unease between a number of ethnic groups, not only between the north and south, but also within the north itself.
While these elections are expected to provide the conflict-scarred nation a fresh start, Mr. Keita’s regime begins already mired in controversy after it emerged on Wednesday that Captain Amadou Sanogo, who led a group of fellow mid-level officers to overthrow then-president Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 of last year, had been promoted. Just two days after Ibrahim Boubacar Keita emerged as Mali’s president-elect, a defence ministry spokesman confirmed that “today, the cabinet approved the nomination of Captain Amadou Sanogo for the grade of Lieutenant-General.” Human Rights Watch (HRW) has described Sanogo’s elevation from captain to the rank of lieutenant-general as “outrageous,” further adding that “Sanogo and forces loyal to him have been implicated in extremely serious abuses, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against journalists and torture.” Most of these crimes were committed during 2012 in the months after the March coup d’etat. The HRW also noted that “instead of being rewarded with this promotion, Sanogo should have been investigated for his alleged involvement in these acts.”
Mali’s interim government announced on Friday that the country’s presidential elections will go to a second round, which has been scheduled for August 11, after no candidates succeeded in securing a majority in the landmark polls.
Figures for Sunday’s ballot, which were announced on live television, indicated that former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came in first in Mali’s presidential elections, gaining 39.2 percent of the vote, however he will face his main rival, ex-Finance Minister Soumalia Cisse, who attained 19.4 percent of the vote, after he failed to secure an outright majority. The results, which were announced by Territorial Administration Minister Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, are provisional and need to be confirmed by the West African nation’s Constitutional Court. No candidate gained the fifty percent of the vote that is necessary in order to declare a victory. Dramane Dembele, the candidate for Mali’s largest political party, the Alliance for Democracy in Mali, polled just 9.6 percent, taking third place. Twenty-four other presidential candidates also took part in the polls. It is widely believed that Mr. Dembele’s votes, along with those of fourth placed candidate Modibo Sidibe, which amount to a total of 14.5 percent, are likely to be transferred to Cisse in the run-off.
The announcement of a run-off will likely ease tensions which have risen since partial results earlier in the week gave Mr. Keita a large lead, indicating that he may win outright. Although Sunday’s voting was carried out in a peaceful manner, and has been praised by observer missions, Mr. Cisse’s party on Wednesday has announced that the elections had been marred by what it termed as “ballot stuffing,” a form of electoral fraud in which people submit multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is allowed. Critics have argued that Mali, which was under pressure from the international community, may have rushed into the polls and risked mishandling the elections which would result in more harm than good. However the country has been praised by the international community for running a transparent, credible and peaceful election. In response to Wednesday’s allegations, acting President Dioncounda Traore and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have acknowledged that the vote may be “imperfect” in a country were 500,000 citizens continue to be displaced by a military coup that was launched in March 2012. They have however urged Malians to respect the outcome.
Despite heavy security during voting, after the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, one of the main armed groups in northern Mali, announced that it would “strike polling stations more than 3.5 million Malians cast their ballot, resulting in a 51.5 percent turnout which eclipsed its next best of 38 percent. The turnout was also higher than the United States has managed in three of its presidential elections since 1984. This high turnout has in effect demonstrated that Malians are ready to get back to the democratic government that was present prior to a military coup which led to armed Islamist militants taking over the northern regions of the country.
Preliminary Results from Malian Elections Announced while Togo’s Opposition Party Rejects Parliamentary Election ResultsJuly 31, 2013 in Africa, Mali, Togo
While official results from Sunday’s presidential elections in Mali are not expected to be announced until Friday, the country’s interim government has stated that initial results indicate that Mali’s ex-Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubakar Keita has a clear lead in the polls that are intended to restore democratic rule in Mali. Meanwhile in Togo’s opposition party has rejected the ruling party’s win in the recent Parliamentary vote.
With a third of the votes counted in Mali’s presidential elections, the country’s interim government has stated on Tuesday that former Prime Minister Keita is expected to win the elections, with former Finance Minister Soumalia Cisse expected to gain second place. Col Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, the Minister of Territorial Administration, stated to journalists in the capital city of Bamako that “there is one candidate, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who has a wide margin compared with other candidates…. If maintained, there will not be a need for a second round.” Mr. Cisse’s camp however has rejected the results, calling for an international commission to count the ballots that were case in Sunday’s poll. His spokesman, Amadou Koita, has called the announcement “scandalous” and has questioned why Col Coulibaly refused to provide figures to back up his statement. International observers have urged Malians to accept the outcome of the elections while Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who is the current head of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has expressed confidence that the Malian contenders will accept the voters‘ choice.
The announcement of a possible winner in Mali’s critical presidential elections comes just days after France hailed the elections as a success. The European Union also indicated on Monday that the elections had gone well and that they had been marked by enthusiasm amongst voters despite threats from Islamist terrorists that polling stations throughout the country would be attacked.
Sunday’s vote was the first election to be held since an uprising by Tuareg separatists sparked a military coup in March of last year, which toppled democratically elected President Amadou Toumani Toure and effectively plunged the country into a political crisis which opened the way for Islamist militants to occupy the vast northern desert regions for ten months before being ousted by a French-led military offensive that was launched in January of this year. The presidential elections are seen as critical in not only completing the transition towards a democracy but also in maintaining stability and security.
On Monday, Togo’s main opposition rejected the provisional electoral results which showed that the ruling party won two-thirds of the parliamentary seats, effectively allowing the current President’s family to maintain its decades-long grip on power. Although the full elections results of the country’s parliamentary elections were announced by the Electoral Commission on Sunday night, Togo’s main opposition coalition, Let’s Save Togo, had already alleged earlier in the day that irregularities had occurred during the elections. The following day, Agbeyome Kodjo, a key figure within the Let’s Save Togo party, called the vote and results a “sham,” stating that “its an electoral sham amid massive corruption and proven electoral fraud.” The West African nation’s constitutional court must now approve the results from Thursday’s elections before they can become final.
According to results that were released by the Electoral Commission on Sunday evening, President Faure Gnassingbe’s UNIR party won 62 of the 91 seats, giving the party a two-thirds majority in Parliament. If the results are approved by the constitutional court, the President’s party will effectively have control over an even greater percentage of seats than it currently holds. During the 2007 legislative elections, the UNIR party won 50 of 81 seats. The closest opposition party was Let’s Save Togo, which won 19 seats. During Thursday’s elections, the UNIR performed particularly well in the northern region of the country, which is its traditional stronghold. Meanwhile Let’s Save Togo is stronger in the south, winning seven of the ten seats in the capital city of Lome. The second-largest opposition group in the elections, the Rainbow coalition, obtained six seats in Parliament. In a statement that was released late on Monday, the party also rejected the results of the polls, alleging that “several serious anomalies and cases of massive fraud” were recorded during the elections.
Despite the opposition coalition stating that there were irregularities that occurred during the elections, observers from the African Union (AU) and West African bloc ECOWAS have stated that the elections were held in acceptable conditions. In turn, the United States Embassy in Togo congratulated the Electoral Commission on Monday on the peaceful outcome of the elections, urging all the political parties to “respect the wish of the Togolese people.” A statement released by the US Embassy stated that “we urge all the political parties to respect the wish of the Togolese people and resolve all differences in a peaceful manner, in conformity with the electoral law.” The Embassy also urged that the new national assembly undertake the strengthening of democracy and to work for a more prosperous future for the Togolese.
The long-delayed vote came after months of protests, with the opposition coalition seeking to bring about sweeping electoral reforms. Many of the protests were dispersed by security forces who fired tear gas into the crowds, while some thirty-five people, mostly opposition members, were detained in the run-up to the vote in connection with a number of suspicious fires that had occurred at two major markers. Thirteen opposition members have since been released, including five candidates who participated in Thursday’s polls. Over the coming days, as the results of the elections are either confirmed or denied by the constitutional court, it is highly likely that protests may break out if it is announced that the current President’s party has won a majority of the seats in Parliament.