By Gearóid Ó Colmáin “The objective is the total reconquest of Mali” -French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, (20 January, 2013)
Presidential elections are due to take place in Mali on Sunday, July 28th. The latest polls indicate a victory for Ibrahim Boubecar Keïta, with Soumaila Cissé coming in second place. There are 27 candidates running in the election. The holding of the election just months after the French military intervention in January 2013 has been widely criticized due to the chaotic state of the country.
UN Secretary GeneralBan Ki Moon admitted that the elections would not be ‘perfect’ but indicated that they would have to be accepted by the Malian people.
There have already been reports of widespread fraud and irregularities, with thousands of NINA (Numero d’identité nationale) voter cards not being delivered to voters. There have also been reports of dollars being handed out to bribe voters.
There is a very low distribution of NINA cards in the refugee camps both inside and outside Mali. Only 300 voter cards have been distributed among 730,000 refugees in camps in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Algeria and Niger while Burkina Faso’s 50,000 Malian refugees have only received 30 NINA cards.
The electoral lists are the same as 2009, thereby excluding 300,000 eligible voters who have come of age since then. The NINA cards were only distributed in April in spite of the fact that it would take at least 6 to 12 months for their adequate distribution in a war torn country of Mali’s size.
The regions of the North of the country, formally occupied by jihadists and separatist forces will hardly vote at all. The MNLA, Azawad National Liberation Movement, who waged a war against the central government in Bamako since 2012, want to declare independence from the Malian state. The region of Kidal in the North is still occupied by the rebel forces, with French troops also stationed there.
The hastily organized elections will not help the cause of national reconciliation due to the fact that so many people have been excluded from voting. ...