Low turn-out marks 2nd round elections in Mali
The impoverished African nation of Mali voted in the second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday, but with most people ignoring calls to vote and leaving polling stations largely deserted.
Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure urged voters to go out and cast their ballots saying a low turnout would be worrying, but by the time stations closed at 6:00 pm (1800 GMT) officials were pointing to a very weak participation.
“I am both satisfied and worried—satisfied because the elections are taking place calmly but worried because most Malians are not motivated” by the vote, the president said after casting his ballot at a polling station in Bamako.
“Mali’s political parties must meet to reflect on the reasons behind this low turnout,” he said, before he urged the country’s five million registered voters to “go out and vote.”
The popular Toure, who swept to power in May, is a former military ruler who stood down for an elected civilian government in 1992.
Reporters said voting had got under way slowly on Sunday after polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0800 GMT). Turnout had not improved at midday, they said, and at closing time the stations appeared to be deserted.
Police said the turnout was “very, very weak”.
Malians were electing 123 lawmakers to the country’s 147-seat parliament in the second round vote. In the first round, held two weeks ago, only 1,21-million out of a registered electorate of some five million—or around 23%—turned out to vote.
Twenty-three parliamentary seats were won outright in that round, and the vote was annulled in one constituency. The first official results released on Tuesday gave Toure’s Alliance for Democracy in Mali (Adema) party an early lead with nine seats, but the vote was still seen as wide open.
The Rally for Mali (RPM) of former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was in second place with four seats, and the National Congress for Democratic Initiative (CNID) was in third place with three seats.
Adema, which had an overwhelming majority in the outgoing parliament, was said to be well placed to win in 20 constituencies.
The vote was annulled in the northern constituency of Tine-Essako and in itinerant polling stations because of serious irregularities, the constitutional court said last week.
The itinerant polling stations served nomads in the country’s Sahara desert regions.
The court said irregularities included an “anarchic” distribution of voters’ cards, falsification of polling station records, multiple voting, the “clandestine” counting of ballots and “corruption” of voters by candidates.
According to an AFP estimate, about 160 000 first-round votes have been annulled in all. - AFP