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Mali records low turnout for parliamentary election

AFP logoAFP 2020-04-02
a person sitting on a table: Electoral officials wore masks and gloves as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus during Mali's parliamentary elections © MICHELE CATTANI Electoral officials wore masks and gloves as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus during Mali's parliamentary elections

Turnout for Mali's parliamentary elections this week was just 36 percent, officials said Thursday, wit many people staying away from the ballot boxes due to threats of violence and the coronavirus pandemic.

Voters in the war-torn West African country cast their ballots for new MPs on Sunday in an election that had been long delayed mostly because of security concerns.

Announcing the provisional results on Thursday, territorial administration minister Boubacar Alpha Bah said 35.73 percent of the 7.6 million registered voters turned out. 

"The participation rate still poses a challenge to our democracy," Bah said at a press conference in the capital Bamako.

Polling day was marked by several violent incidents in Mali's volatile north and centre, including the kidnap of officials.

Mali has struggled to contain a jihadist conflict that broke out in country's north in 2012 and then engulfed the centre. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have since been killed.

Last week's election followed the kidnap of leading opposition figure Soumaila Cisse -- a first in Mali for a politician of his stature.

But analysts said the election to the 147-seat parliament was critical to implementing reforms that could drag the former French colony out of its cycle of violence. 

Provisional results indicate Cisse was elected in the first round, but also show a second round of voting will be needed in some districts where no candidate won a majority.

Preliminary results show many candidates who support President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will likely face a second round of voting on April 19, according to an AFP tally. 

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