Mali July elections a bad idea: Analysts

2013-06-15 22:13
Mali troops on patrol. (File, AFP/Ecpad)

Mali troops on patrol. (File, AFP/Ecpad)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Cape Town - Although elections are essential to restoring democratic rule in Mali, analysts doubt that the troubled West African nation will be ready for national polls by the end of July.

"Holding elections on July 28 is a bad idea. They are likely to be a total failure and could result in chaos and violence," Abdoulaye Niang, an independent analyst based in the capital Bamako, said.

Even if the interim government and separatist ethnic Tuareg rebels agree on a temporary peace accord - which they have been negotiating for the past week - security will remain a concern in the north of the country.

"Elections are a prime opportunity for extremists to launch attacks to force their interests," Niang said.

This week, the French army said it had uncovered a workshop for producing explosives in northern Mali, the largest cache found for several months.

A temporary peace agreement is a far cry from the sustainable, long-term solution Mali needs to mend a nation deeply divided along ethnic lines, Niang said.

Unstable context for elections

Mali's key regional capital Kidal, held by the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), as well as government-controlled regions around Gao and Timbuktu, have been suffering ongoing assaults and suicide bombings since February.

The MNLA, which seeks independence from southern Mali, has repeatedly threatened that it will not allow elections in its territories without power-sharing talks.

The elections also come at a time when France, which led a military offensive against Islamic militants in Mali's north after a coup that toppled elected president Amadou Toumani Toure in January 2012, is starting to withdraw its troops.

A 12 600-strong United Nations mission that will start to take over from 1 July will have very little time to establish itself.

"It's an unstable and highly contested context for elections," Oladiran Bello, a senior analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Cape Town, said.

There are also numerous logistical hurdles. With only six weeks to go, Mali's electoral register remains incomplete. The country is more than twice the size of France, and has about 7 million eligible voters, but voter cards have not yet been distributed.

Exit strategy

"The interim government agreed to the July 28 date for diplomatic reasons. We don't see any real preparations taking place within the country," Niang said.

Interim president Dioncounda Traore was pressured to agree to early elections by former colonial power France, the United States and the United Nations. International donors pledged $4.3bn in May to help reconstruct and develop Mali, and tied the release of the money to the 28 July election date.

Handing over power to a democratically elected government is part of France's exit strategy from Mali, while the UN and donor countries want new leadership in place before ploughing millions into the country, Bello said.

Traore had made his personal doubts known a day before the May donor conference: "If the elections fail, it will create even more problems than Mali has known during its crisis. We would be back to square one."

There are many more reasons for not holding elections in July. It is the height of Mali's rainy season, which makes poor roads and infrastructure even worse.

"At the end of July, it will be impossible for large parts of the population to vote when heavy rains and flooding make many roads impassable," Niang said.

Serious constraints

Mali already suffers from low voter turnout. In the past 15 years, only between 21 and 39% of the population have participated in polls, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Stockholm.

The July election date could mean that even fewer people will take part in this year's ballot.

July is the main planting season for farmers and overlaps with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, meaning two major population groups will be deterred from voting.

In addition, almost half a million Malians have been displaced inside and outside the country since the coup. For them, too, casting their vote will be difficult.

"July elections will have serious logistical, political and organisational constraints that could create serious problems in terms of legitimacy and contestation," Bello said.

Ideally, Mali should be given at least several more months to thoroughly prepare for elections, he said. But the international community is not prepared to grant this much time.

- SAPA

Read more on:    un  |  dioncounda traore  |  france  |  mali  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 16:23 PM
    Road name: M5 Southbound
    DELAYS between Berkley Road and the Kromboom Road exit
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 16:23 PM
    Road name: De Waal Drive Outbound
    DELAYS approaching Hospital Bend
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.