Malians Gear up for Presidential Runoff

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Voters in Mali are heading to the polls for the second round of the country’s presidential election, which is largely seen as an important step towards reestablishing democracy there after last year’s military coup.

According to VOAnews.com:

“Malians are going to the polls Sunday for a presidential run-off election that will decide who leads the country out of 18 months of unprecedented conflict and political crisis. The final round of campaigning was relatively quiet, in part due to the Eid al-Fitr holiday period.

“It was a sleepy end to a 48-hour campaign run for the two candidates, former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse.

“The Constitutional Court did not confirm results of last month’s first round of voting until Wednesday, eve of the major Muslim holiday celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan, so religion took priority over politics.

“Results indicate Keita dominated the first round of voting with nearly 40 percent of the vote, while Cisse pulled just under 20 percent. Since the July 28 polls, most of the 25 other candidates eliminated in the first round have thrown their support to Keita, including the third place finisher Dramane Dembele.

International Aid

According to Bloomberg.com:

“International donors insisted that the election, the first since 2007, be held last month before they could start providing as much as $4 billion in aid pledged in May.

Mali’s new president also must tackle corruption in the government and ‘get the Malian economy going again after being almost frozen in the past 18 months,’ Whitehouse said. Mali’s $10.6 billion economy contracted 1.2 percent in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“Gold mining, which hasn’t been affected by the fighting, may help the economy expand 4.8 percent this year, according to the fund.

“I came to vote because I know it’s important for us to decide our future, to decide who will lead us in the right way,” said Bamako-resident Boubacar Diallo after casting his vote in Sabalibougou today. ‘Even if there was a storm over our heads I would have come.'”

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