BAMAKO. — Vote counting for Mali’s second round of presidential elections was underway after polling stations closed across the west African country on Sunday night. After 10 hours of voting, most polling stations in Bamako closed at 6pm local time, amid positive evaluations by both national and international observers of the run-off between Mali’s ex-prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and ex-finance minister Soumaila Cisse.
In their preliminary reports, the observers noted that the turn-out rate could have been lower than that of July 28, which stood at 48.98 percent. They hailed the conduct of the elections, noting no major incidents, including in the northern region of the country. The international observer missions included the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
The Citizen Centre for Electoral Observation (POCE), an association of 60 Malian civil society organisations that had 2,100 observers, said in a statement released on Sunday evening in Bamako that “generally, the voters came out in good numbers to accomplish their civic duty, despite the strong rains in Kayes, Koulikoro and Bamako regions.”
“By the closure of the polling stations, the situation on the conduct of the elections was satisfactory in 77.5 percent of the open polling stations,” the association said.
The statement also indicated that in certain cases, the operations went on beyond the official closing hour “because of the combined effects of rains or delayed opening of the polling stations.”
However, POCE observed that fewer voters, compared to the first round, turned up to cast their votes. It placed the average voter turn-out at 45 percent.
The head of the EU electoral observer mission, Louis Michel, hailed the “considerable democratic progress” that had been achieved by Mali, a country that is trying to overcome the challenge of rebel groups and terrorists in the northern region, where reports by observer missions show that the elections went on smoothly.
At the Fleuve primary school polling station in Bamako’s Djicoroni district, generally considered a stronghold of Keita, the candidate of the Rally for Mali (RPM), initial results have been announced, with Keita leading by a large margin over Cisse, the candidate of the Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD).
Just like in the first round, some 6.8 million registered voters out of an estimated population of 15.8 million Malians, were expected to turn out and cast their ballots in 21,000 polling stations, with close to 2,163 in Bamako district alone. — Xinhua.
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