Sunday Mali is democratically electing a new president. Thankfully,
fundamental Muslims could not rally enough to become a real threat, after
their 'revival meetings' after 9/11.
This report from the United Nations gives a good insight into the situation
in Mali, not just politically, but also socially, educationally, economically
U N I T E D N A T I O N S
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Integrated
Regional Information Network (IRIN)
MALI: IRIN Focus on presidential elections
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
BAMAKO, 24 April (IRIN) - //The following report does not necessarily reflect
the views of the United Nations//
Malians go to the polls on Sunday to replace outgoing President Alpha Oumar
Konare, who came into power in 1992 in Mali's first multiparty election and
was re-elected five years later. Konare's successor is scheduled to take
office on 8 June.
Mali has earned respect from within and outside Africa for its commitment to
democracy. Konare, for example, has respected the constitution and made no
attempt to extend his mandate beyond the two five-year terms it allows him. Ten
years earlier, his predecessor, Amadou Toumani Toure, also kept his word and
did not take part in the 1992 election after leading what many Malians saw as
a successful transition to democracy after the fall of President Moussa
Toure, who retired from the army in 2001, is one of 24 candidates running for
president. Other contenders include former prime ministers Ibrahim Boubacar
Keita and Mande Sidibe; Soumaila Cisse of the ruling Alliance pour la
Democratie au Mali (ADEMA - Alliance for Democracy in Mali), and lawyer and
long-time opposition leader Mountaga Tall.
Former Amnesty International researcher Tiebile Drame of the 'Parti Africain
pour la Renaissance National' (PARENA - African National Renaissance Party)
and Chogel Maiga of the 'Mouvement Patriotique pour le Renouveau' (Patriotic
Movement for Renewal) are also among prospective occupants of Koulouba
Palace, the presidential mansion which sits atop a hill overlooking the
Analysts predict a second round of voting. They say there is no clear-cut
favourite among the host of contenders but see Cisse, Keita, Toure and Sidibe
as the frontrunners.
Toure is supported by a coalition of 23 parties. Keita is a member of a group
of parties called Espoir 2002 (Hope 2002), which will present a single
candidate if the election goes to a second round. Cisse, who became ADEMA's
candidate after winning party primaries, is supported by a multiparty
alliance. Sidibe, prime minister until 18 March, and also a member of ADEMA,
is running as an independent.
Whoever the winner, a daunting task awaits the next president. Mohammed
Diallo, who sells groceries at Bamako's main market, feels the next president
must focus on schools and industries to create jobs for young people. Diallo's
friend, Aminata, says the incoming head of state would have to focus on just
While the government has been praised as a model of democracy and economic
progress, some Malians believe it has done less well in key areas such as
health, education and sanitation. "In terms of sustainable development,
we've gone backwards," Abdoulaye Sekuo Sow, former prime minister told
IRIN. "Many families do not have two meals a day."
Access to health care, water, electricity and housing is limited and their
cost keep increasing, Sow, who served as premier under both Traore and
Konare, said. A few weeks ago, women wielding pots and pans marched through
the streets of the Malian capital to protest the high cost of living.
Some 72.8 percent of Malians live in poverty, according to the UNDP's latest
human development report. And while the government has been able to increase
access to education, the percentage of Malian children in school is still
low: the primary school enrolment rate was 48.9 percent in 1997, according to
UNESCO (up from 31.5 percent in 1992) while the rate for secondary schools
was 12.6 percent (8.0 percent in 1992).
A 10-year project funded by the World Bank aims to improve the education
Residents of the Malian capital say there are now more street lamps and
surfaced roads than before, partly as a result of this year's African Cup of
Nations football tournament, held in Mali in January. A taxi driver told IRIN
he was happy now that he could reach most neighbourhoods within minutes. However,
roads in some areas still become slushy after downpours.
The nearly 11 million Malians live in a country which, with an area of 1.24
million sq. km, is the second largest in West Africa - after Niger - and has
borders with seven other states.
The former French colony became independent in 1961. It was ruled by General
Moussa Traore from 1968 until 26 March 1991, when his government was toppled
following a popular insurrection, which took the form of demonstrations in
favour of a democratic, multiparty system and individual freedoms.
"Konare brought that with him", Modibo Diakiate, opposition politician
told IRIN. "However the next president will have to do more to ensure
that Mali's democracy is more than just a fagade," he said.
The next president, Sow said, has to be one who could bring down the barriers
of partisan politics and rule within a consensual democracy in which everyone
puts national interest first. What is at stake is Mali's socioeconomic
development, national unity and democratisation, Sow told IRIN.
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