Malian leader Keita expected to win re-election after runoff

Mali’s runoff presidential election on Sunday was peaceful, monitors at polling stations said, despite a recent history of jihadist attacks.

Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is expected to win the country's runoff presidential election. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is expected to win the country’s runoff presidential election. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

As votes were counted early Monday, incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was expected to defeat challenger Soumaklia Cisse.
Keita captured 41 percent of the vote in the main election in July, compared to Cisse’s 18 percent.

Over 36,000 government troops were deployed at 23,000 polling stations in the West African country, which has seen a surge in ethnic and militant violence during Boubacar’s term in office.

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The European Union monitored 300 polling places and said they followed proper procedures. Nearly 500 polling places never opened, security minister Salif Traore said, most in central Mali’s Mopti region, which has been hit hardest by violence.

Pocim, a group of local citizen observers, said only about 22 percent voted in Sunday’s runoff — about half of last month’s turnout.

Mali dissolved into war in 2012 when Tuareg separatists and Islamist insurgents, backed by armaments from Libya, seized the northern part of the country. A French military intervention pushed back some rebels, and Keita won an election on pledges to take back control of the north.

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“I promise all the difficulties we have experienced over the past years are now behind us,” Keita told supporters after casting his ballot in the capital of Bamako Sunday.

ByEd Adamczyk