In the evening of Thursday, August 2, the Malian government released the results of the presidential election Sunday, July 29, with President Ibrahaim Boubacar Keita winning 41.4 percent of the vote, short of the 50 percent required to win outright. A run off vote between Keita and his primary rival Soumaila Cisse is planned for Sunday, August 12. Cisse won 17.8 percent of ballots cast with 23 other candidates receiving the remaining votes. The election was marked by violence and intimidation in the north, where armed groups closed 644 polling stations, according to the Ministry of Territorial Administration. Eighteen of the 24 candidates signed a declaration alleging corruption, intimidation, and ballot stuffing, claiming they "would not accept results marred by irregularities," and demanded an investigation into ballot fraud.
Second round voting on August 12 will likely experience similar difficulties as the July 29 election. Armed groups have a strong influence in the north and will likely exert pressure to prevent people from voting. Violent incidents and intimidation are possible in the Mopti, Tombouctou, Kidal, and Gao regions. There is also a possibility of civil unrest in the capital Bamako and other major cities on election day and in subsequent days.
Many of Mali's security concerns are due to the presence of armed extremist groups, notably in the country's northern and central regions. These areas remain unstable despite the presence of MINUSMA, one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions in the world, and a French-led intervention launched in 2013 that drove many extremists from their strongholds.
President Keita has been in power since 2013 when he beat Cisse in a run off election.
Individuals in Mali are advised to monitor the situation and avoid all political events and large public gatherings due to significant security concerns (e.g. unrest, risk of terrorist attack). The security environment in Mali remains complex, particularly in the north and central regions. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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