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Mali presidential elections expected to proceed to second round runoff

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Mali presidential elections expected to proceed to second round runoff

Supporters of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of Mali and candidate for Rally for Mali party (RPM) attend a rally in Bamako, Mali
Supporters of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of Mali and candidate for Rally for Mali party (RPM) attend a rally in Bamako, Mali
Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago

Voters across Mali head to the polls today to select their next president. This marks the second election since a 2012 coup plunged the West African nation into political turmoil.

The two leading candidates, current President Ibrahima Boubacar Keita and opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, faced each other in the second-round runoff in 2013. Mr Keita won that election easily, garnering 77% of the vote.

During the five-year inter-election period, Mali has been plagued with militant violence in the northern Sahel region, raising security concerns nationwide. The economic situation has also devolved—Mali’s GDP per capita is approximately $2000—leaving 24% of the county food insecure.

A large influx of young, disenfranchised voters is expected, as the majority of Malians are 25 years old or younger. Thus, the door is wide open for opposition candidates to reverse the electoral outcomes of 2013. The first round of elections will be hotly contested, likely forcing a runoff if no candidate wins a majority. Given the close race and nationwide discontent, watch for potential protests and violence no matter the result, especially in the tumultuous northern regions.

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