Top Posts

26 November 2013

Mali: EU/UN Praises Dysfunctionality

Mali: EU/UN Praises Dysfunctionality

 

Mali election marred by low turnout and voting abuses


BAMAKO Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:03pm EST

(Reuters) - Low turnout and vote abuses marred Sunday elections meant to complete democratic transition in Mali, after a coup last year led to an Islamist takeover of the north that was crushed by French military intervention.
Officials said armed men carried off ballot boxes from some bureaux in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali, preventing some people from casting their votes in the legislative poll. It was not immediately clear who was responsible.

The West African country has suffered a surge in Islamist violence since President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected in August in a vote that marked a return to democracy after the March 2012 coup.

The military putsch plunged Mali into chaos and allowed al Qaeda-linked fighters to seize the northern two-thirds of the country. France launched a massive military operation in January that drove the Islamists from northern towns, but isolated cells have remained active.

Vote counting began after some 25,000 bureaux across the country closed at 1800 GMT. Only a fraction of the 6.7 million people registered to vote appeared to have cast their ballot and there was no sign of the long queues of voters that marked the presidential vote.

"Compared to the presidential elections the turnout was very weak. In my bureau, we didn't even get a third of the voters," said Oumar Samake, president of a voting bureau in Bamako. "Political parties have to do more to inform their voters."

Malian soldiers, French troops and U.N. peacekeepers protected voting stations in the north following the resurgence of Islamist violence. Gao, the largest city in northern Mali, was targeted in a rocket attack on Thursday by suspected Islamists.

The election of a new parliament is supposed to complete the democratic transition in the wake of last year's coup. Donors have pledged $3.25 billion to rebuild the impoverished country and develop its lawless desert north.

Despite some discontent in southern Mali with his peace overtures to northern Tuareg separatist rebels, Keita's RPM party is expected to comfortably win the election. Universally known by his initials IBK, Keita swept the August 11 presidential runoff with 78 percent of the vote.

"The aim of my vote is to give a comfortable majority to the president and his allies," said Boubacar Ouedrago, a butcher in Bamako. "IBK needs this majority to complete his mission."

PROTEST IN KIDAL, GUNMEN IN GOUNDAM

Some 1,087 candidates from 410 electoral lists competed for the 147 seats in parliament. A second round will be held on December 15 in constituencies where there is no majority winner.

Keita's losing presidential rival, Soumaila Cisse, aims to secure the post of parliamentary speaker and has pledged to form a vocal opposition, according to sources close to him.

The unity governments of former president Amadou Toumani Toure, which curtailed debate and accountability, have been blamed for damaging faith in Mali's political system, encouraging the 2012 coup.

Keita's RPM party was the only one on the electoral list in the far north region of Kidal, where it has enlisted the support of some of the leaders of last year's uprising. Opposition candidates say it has been too dangerous to campaign there.

Some 100 supporters of separatist parties staged a march in Kidal's dusty center to protest against the elections but were prevented from entering voting stations by members of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, residents said.

Oumou Sall Seck, mayor of the town of Goundam some 65 km (40 miles) from the ancient caravan town of Timbuktu, said voting was impossible in five of its communes due to the disappearance of electoral materials or the theft of ballot boxes by armed men.

"They were militia. They were armed and well-organised, moving around on vehicles," said Seck, a member of Cisse's opposition URD party. Officials also reported gunmen taking materials near Lere, 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Timbuktu.

France has more than 2,000 troops stationed in Mali but aims to reduce its military presence to 1,000 by February as it hands security responsibilities to the Malian army and the U.N. force. The U.N. mission, launched in July, is still at roughly half its 12,600 planned strength.

(Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Andrew Roche)

Malians trickle to polls in legislative vote amid security fears


BAMAKO Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:56am EST

(Reuters) - Malians trickled to the polls amid high security for a legislative ballot on Sunday, in the second set of elections since France intervened this year to oust al Qaeda-linked militants from the country's north.
The West African country has suffered a surge in Islamist violence since President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected in August in polls that marked a return to democracy after a March 2012 coup. The military putsch plunged Mali into chaos and allowed Islamists to seize its desert north.

Polls opened at 3 a.m. ET. Some 6.7 million people were registered to cast their vote in 25,000 bureaux across the nation twice the size of France.


Initial turnout appeared much lower than in August's vote. Voting stations were due to remain open until 1 p.m. ET.

Malian soldiers, French troops and U.N. peacekeepers protected voting stations in the north following a resurgence of Islamist violence. Gao, the largest city in northern Mali, was targeted in a rocket attack on Thursday by suspected Islamists.

The election of a new parliament will complete the democratic transition in the wake of last year's coup. Donors have pledged $3.25 billion to rebuild the impoverished country and develop its lawless desert north.

"I came to vote because without a parliament there are no laws, there is no democracy," said Bakary Berthe, 52, the first person to vote in the Banakabougou neighborhood of Bamako. "I voted without any problems. It was transparent."

Unlike the presidential elections, when long lines snaked outside voting stations, Berthe was the only voter waiting to cast his ballot early on Sunday.

IBK EXPECTED TO WIN

Some 1,087 candidates from 410 electoral lists will compete for the 147 seats in the national assembly. A second round will be held on December 15 in constituencies where there is no majority winner on Sunday.

Political analysts expected Keita, commonly known by his initials IBK, and his allies to comfortably win the election after he swept the August 11 presidential runoff by a landslide.

"The aim of my vote is to give a comfortable majority to the president and his allies," said Boubacar Ouedrago, a butcher in Bamako. "IBK needs this majority to complete his mission."

His losing presidential rival, Soumaila Cisse, at the head of a coalition of parties, aims to secure the post of parliamentary speaker and has pledged to present Keita with a real opposition, according to sources close to him.

The unity governments of former president Amadou Toumani Toure, which curtailed political debate and accountability, have been blamed for damaging faith in Mali's political system, thereby encouraging the 2012 coup.

Keita's RPM party was the only one on the electoral list in the far north region of Kidal, where it has enlisted the political support of some of the leaders of last year's uprising. Opposition candidates say it has been too dangerous to campaign there.

Some 100 supporters of separatist parties staged a march in Kidal's dusty center to protest against the elections but were prevented from entering voting stations by members of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, residents said.

France, which has more than 2,000 troops stationed in Mali, aims to reduce its military presence to 1,000 by February as it hands security responsibilities to the Malian army and the U.N. force. The U.N. mission, launched in July, is still at roughly half its 12,600 planned strength.

(Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Armed men seize urns from Malian polling stations: officials


BAMAKO Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:35pm EST

(Reuters) - Armed men burst into voting stations in the region of Timbuktu in northern Mali and carried off ballot boxes, preventing voters from casting their ballots in Sunday's legislative elections, officials said.
"There was no voting in several communes of Goundam," said Oumou Sall Seck, mayor of the town and a member of the opposition URD party.

He said well-organised armed men travelling in several vehicles had burst into some voting stations and carried off the urns, while in others materials simply went missing.


He said there was no voting in at least five of the 16 communes of Goudam, some 65 km (40 miles) from the ancient caravan town of Timbuktu. Electoral officials also reported gunmen taking electoral materials near Lere, 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Timbuktu.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Adama Diarra; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Andrew Roche)




EU observers and U.N. mission praise Mali legislative vote


BAMAKO Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:52pm EST

(Reuters) - European Union observers and the United Nation's mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on Monday praised the West African nation's weekend legislative election, despite low turnout and some voting abuses.
Sunday's vote was largely peaceful except for a few incidents in the north that were unlikely to affect the outcome, EU election observation chief Louis Michel said in a statement.

Malian officials reported that armed men carried off ballot boxes in Goundam, in the region of Timbuktu, preventing people from casting their votes. Tuareg separatists also held protests in their northern stronghold of Kidal.

Bert Koenders, MINUSMA's head, said the election campaign and voting took place in accordance with Malian law and met the mission's expectations. He condemned the incidents that marred voting in some places, particularly Goundam, but said they did not invalidate the election.

"These elections will allow the establishment of a new National Assembly, an essential process for the return of constitutional order," Koenders said.

The election of a new parliament is supposed to complete the democratic transition in the wake of last year's military coup and a nine-month occupation of northern Mali by Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda.

The end of the transition will unlock about $3.25 billion donors have pledged to rebuild the impoverished country and develop its lawless northern desert.

(Reporting by Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Larry King)

No comments:

Post a Comment