The official results of Mai’s run-off poll are not expected for a few days, however both sides are exchanging counterclaims and accusations of irregularities and fraud. The poll that had a very low turnout was plagued by militant violence that shut nearly 500 polling stations. The estimated turnout for this second round stands at about 27 percent of the 8 million registered voters.
Keita won the first round of elections with about 41 percent of the vote. However, Mali’s presidential candidate, Soumalia Cissé will not concede to this second alleged victory so easily. Cisse has stated that his staff had intercepted ballots in Bamako and Gao, which he claims are evidence of electoral fraud in the run-off poll.
“Everywhere we found an extremely strong desire for change. Malians want to change. Malians want a different future, a different hope. That is why I am very happy to be here. I am very happy because I am confident about today’s vote. But I also want to say that unfortunately last night we found elements of fraud in Bamako, we found people who already had booklets of ballots with them.”
“We held a news conference to show to the world that the other camp (that of incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita) is not playing fair, that the other camp is carrying out fraud, the ballots are pre-voted in Gao, we have examples of that. In Bamako people already had ballots. But we will win because we are on the path of truth, we are on the path of hope and Malians need to change, they don’t need cheating, they don’t need a president who cheats to win”, Cissé said.
Observers however told reporters that although they encountered irregularities they did not see any fraud. “The vote generally took place calmly, despite security incidents in the center and north,” EU mission head Cecile Kyenge said. “Our observers did not see fraud but problems of irregularities,” she said, citing threats by armed groups and a lack of communication between election officials.
Keita is therefore on track to take office on September 4th. Critics predict that his immediate challenges will include strengthening a 2015 peace accord between the government, its allies, and former Tuareg rebels.