Mali election campaign under way after years of delays

2016-11-06 07:00
File: AP

File: AP

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Bamako  - Campaigning for municipal elections was under way in Mali on Friday under a cloud of apathy and uncertainty, following years of delays due to the persistent insecurity.

The vote, due on November 20, will elect 12 000 councillors in the country's 703 communes two years later than originally scheduled, as the government wrestles with implementing a peace deal and warding off a stubborn jihadist threat.

In the capital, Bamako, not a single campaign poster could be seen in the city's busiest streets, while residents made clear their fatigue with years of civil conflict and perceived political mismanagement.

"We are tired of politics. We no longer believe in politicians. So I have decided not to vote," Bamako resident Adramane Dicko told AFP, expressing the prevailing view among citizens.

Meanwhile, the north of Mali remains too unstable to hold municipal elections safely as clashes spark intermittently between rival armed groups, and jihadists continue to roam vast swathes of the desert.

The five northern regions are instead awaiting the installation of so-called interim authorities ahead of full elections which will be held once basic security can be guaranteed.

Security 

The state is entirely absent from large sections of northern Mali, leaving communities in the hands of local commanders whose power battles have threatened to unravel an accord they signed last year.

The deal was aimed at ending unrest in the north, which in 2012 fell under the control of three radical Islamist groups, subsequently plunging the entire country into chaos.

The head of the UN mission in Mali, which is attempting to bolster security along with French troops, emphasised on Thursday that the arrival of northern interim authorities had become "practically speaking, a required step before the rest of the deal can be put into place".

Mahamat Saleh Annadif said that key steps in the peace process, such as integrating former rebels into the army and organising joint patrols of the Malian military and armed groups, could only take place after the interim authorities were installed.

Maiga Yorobo Sitan Diarra, a woman standing for office in rural Moribabougou, told AFP there was a "crisis of confidence" in the west African nation.

"As a candidate in these elections, even I am surprised by the glum atmosphere and the lack of enthusiasm among the population, and even among the politicians," she said.

Read more on:    un  |  mali  |  west africa  |  mali 2016 election

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