Fifteen years of multiparty democracy in Mali has failed to galvanise voters in the poverty-stricken west African nation, who enjoy the dubious honour of being the world's most ballot-shy electorate. Last week's presidential election garnered a turnout of around 36% -- actually a comparatively high figure given Mali's past record.
A spokesperson for Mali's President, Amadou Toumani Touré, on Monday claimed the incumbent leader had a second five-year term in a weekend election, but the opposition countered by crying foul. If confirmed, that would mean Touré won an outright majority in Sunday's election.
As neighbouring Niger's food crisis lessens with international aid and a bountiful harvest is predicted next month, western Mali is praying for rain. Whereas in Niger farmers and officials say the rain has returned this year and crops promise to be abundant come September, in Mali it is a different story.