Mali votes for a National Assembly
Around 6.5 million voters go to the polls today three months after the successful presidential elections on 11th August when Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (popularly entitled IBK) was elected president in a second round of voting.
The elections are contested against a backdrop of a military coup on 22nd March 2012 which abolished the previous parliament and then the insurrection of Tuareg rebels and Islamists/Jihadists in the north of the country later in the year. The French eventually sent in troops and took back the north but there are still question marks over the ability to run an election in the north despite the continuing presence of French and other troops.
Although rebels signed a peace agreement in June, there has been renewed fighting since the beginning of September in the north and especially the Kidal region.
There are 1,141 candidates standing for the 147 seats in the National Assembly and, because of the nature of election law, there will be a second round on 15th December to complete the results in constituencies where there is no clear winner.
The president’s Rally for Mali (RPM) is hoping to give him a clear majority but this is unlikely to happen. Instead the RPM, which is expected to be the largest party in the new parliament, may have to form a coalition government with the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (Adema). The party of defeated presidential hopeful, Soumaila Cissé, the Union for Republic and Democracy (URD) is expected to go into opposition.
Voting commenced at 8 a.m. local time.