On Saturday, August 11, Malian security officials announced that three people suspected of planning attacks during the upcoming presidential election runoff were arrested in Bamako. According to government officials, an additional 6000 security personnel will be deployed on Sunday, August 12, to provide additional protection during the vote. The main focus of the increased deployments will be in central Mopti region, where some polling stations were closed during the first round. Increased security measures are expected throughout the country, particularly near voting areas, on August 12.
Out of a total of 24 candidates who participated in the first round of voting on July 29, incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (in office since 2013) and opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé emerged as the two main contenders. Some violence was reported at polling stations in the country's northern and central regions despite heavy security deployments nationwide, and there are concerns that Sunday's run-off vote may experience similar difficulties (including violence, alleged intimidation, and electoral fraud).
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.
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.