Presidential Elections In Mali April 28
Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch
April 25, 2002



This 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 and historically.


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 Traore.

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 capital, Bamako.

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 about everything.

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 sector.

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.

Tel: +225 22-40-4440
Fax: +225 22-41-9339
[This Item is Delivered to the "Africa-English" Service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.]

Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2002