Election worker killed in tense Mali presidential run-off vote

Election worker killed in tense Mali presidential run-off vote

 

A polling station chief was killed by suspected jihadists in northern Mali as security concerns disrupted a presidential runoff vote on Sunday.

Security had been drastically boosted ahead of the election’s second round between President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and former finance minister Soumaila Cisse.

But over 100 stations had to be closed in the restive central and northern regions, according to local observer group POCIM.

“Jihadists came this Sunday around 13:30 (1330 GMT) to a polling station in Arkodia,” in the northern Timbuktu region, a local official told AFP.

“They asked everyone to put their hands up. The polling station president tried to escape. The jihadists shot and killed him,” the source said.

Counting was underway in some of the 23,000 polling stations across the country after voting ended at 1800 GMT.

The first round vote on July 29 was marred by violence and threats from armed groups that led to several hundred polling stations being closed — but no casualties had been reported.

Authorities in the vast West African nation said Saturday they had disrupted a plot to carry out “targeted attacks” in the capital Bamako on the eve of the vote.

Sunday’s ballot in Mali is a rerun of a 2013 faceoff between Keita, 73, and Cisse, 68, amid a wave of jihadist bloodshed and ethnic violence.

This year’s campaign saw fierce attacks on Keita’s perceived failure to halt the violence, as well as mounting accusations of vote fraud.

But public enthusiasm has been low and the opposition is fractured.

“We hope the new president does better and knows how to make up for past mistakes,” voter El Hajd Aliou Sow, a retired civil servant, told AFP.

Mali, a landlocked nation home to at least 20 ethnic groups where the majority of people live on less than $2 a day, has battled jihadist attacks and intercommunal violence for years.

After the first-round vote the pool of candidates was reduced from 24 to two, as Keita was credited with 42 percent of the vote and Cisse picked up 18 percent.

(AFP)

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