On Monday, August 13, opposition candidate Soumaïla Cissé alleged that the August 12 presidential runoff - which saw him face off against incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta - had been invalidated by widespread fraud and announced that he will reject the yet-to-be released results the vote. Cissé also called on his supporters to "rise up" and reject a Keïta win. However, while voter turnout on Sunday was reportedly low (early estimates indicate around 27 percent) amid serious security concerns and general voter apathy, observers have judged the election to have been fair overall. Vote tallying is still underway and official results are slated to be released by August 17. President Keïta is expected to emerge as the winner.
Although voting passed off relatively smoothly in the country's south, including the capital Bamako, multiple violent incidents were reported in the country's restive northern and central regions despite a nationwide deployment of 36,000 Malian troops. According to the government, nearly 500 voting stations across the country had to close during Sunday's runoff due to security threats by militants.
Protests or other political gatherings are possible in the coming days, especially surrounding the official release of results. An increased security presence and associated transportation disruptions are to be expected; associated violence cannot be ruled out.
None of the 24 candidates who participated in the first round of voting on July 29 emerged with the required 50 percent of total votes, necessitating a runoff between the two front-runners, President Keïta and Cissé. Cissé has also alleged that the first-round vote was marred by fraud. An increased security presence was deployed across the country in anticipation of the August 12 runoff after some violence was reported at polling stations during the first round of voting in the country's northern and central regions.
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.
Copyright and Disclaimer