Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Mali president wins second term in country plagued by violence

By Katarina Hoije | Bloomberg |

Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita secured a second five-year term after beating former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse in the Aug. 12 runoff election by a landslide.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Picture by DPA)
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Picture Alliance/DPA)

Keita secured 67 percent of the vote against Cisse’s 33 percent, Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization Mohamed Ag Erlaf said in a broadcast on state television, ORTM. Turnout was 35 percent of the more than 8 million registered voters, according to Ag Erlaf.

The 73-year-old Keita, popularly known as IBK, is facing expectations to stem corruption and reverse the spread of Islamist militancy in a country that’s in the front-line of a regional war against jihadists.

Mali is the third-biggest gold producer in sub-Saharan Africa and the continent’s largest cotton grower.

“Malians have chosen,” Mahamadou Camara, Keita’s spokesman, said at his campaign headquarters in the capital, Bamako, opposite the Radisson Blu hotel, which was the target of a militant attack in 2015. “The population want a strong leader; they don’t want chaos.”

While the poll proceeded mostly peacefully, the outcome is tainted by allegations of voting fraud and isolated attacks on ballot stations where the country is battling militants.

About 490 of the approximately 23,000 polling stations never opened, of which 440 were in the Mopti region in central Mali, which has been among the hardest hit by the violence.

Cisse believes the results were rigged, said his campaign manager, Tiebile Drame.

Ballot Undermined

“The result doesn’t reflect the ballot, nor the will of the Malian population,” said Drame. “We will continue to contest the election results peacefully and with all democratic means available to us.”

Ibrahim Maiga, who runs a shop across the street from the Radisson hotel, said he will rally behind Keita even though he voted for Cisse.

Cisse was “my choice,” Maiga said, as droves of IBK’s supporters walked past his shop towards the campaign office. “If IBK has gotten the most vote, he’s the new president and we should respect the result.”

The Constitutional Court has until Aug. 22 to validate the outcome, while Keita’s inauguration is scheduled for Sept. 4.