Mali Presidential Elections

Mali is shortly due to hold a President election, marking the state’s 6th democratic renewal since its transition away from authoritarian rule in 1991. Whilst Mali remains a high-risk location with significant security issues, recent elections have been relatively moderate in terms of politically motivated violence. In general, the pre-electoral and post-electoral climates are calm with the defeated candidate often congratulating the winner on his victory, well before the official announcement of the results. The 2002 and 2007 elections were exceptions, although there were no calls to violence. The announcement of the results of the presidential election occurs in two stages, a provisional announcement by the Ministry of Territorial Administration followed by a definitive announcement by the Constitutional Court.

Political Situation

With just a month until the presidential election scheduled for 29th July, candidates have declared their interests and registered. President Ibrahima Boubacar Keita will be running for a second term, he has the support of a coalition of close to 70 separate political parties. The strongest opponent to the incumbent, is Soumaila Cisse running as a candidate of Rally for Mali (RFM) who is leading a coalition of opposition parties created on February 24, 2018. The electoral campaign for the election is set for 7th July 2018. President Boubacar Keita’s choice of Soumeleye Boubeye Maiga as his Vice-Presidential running mate is largely seen as an attempt to placate the North of country.

Other candidates who are opposing President Keita are Hamadou Ibrahim Toure, Moussa Mara, Jeamille Bittar, Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, Modibo Kone, Kalfa Sanogo, Moussa Diawara, Aliou Boubacar Diallo, Oumar Mariko and recently, the Minister of Education, Housseyni Amion Guindo who resigned his position so as to register as a candidate for Codem party.

Security Situation

The security crisis in Northern and Central Mali which has disrupted the country since the 2012 Coup d’état continues to be an issue for the central government and organisations operating in the wider Sahel and sub-Saharan region. Due to the state emergency that will remain in place until October 2018 balloting will not be possible in certain locations. Insurgent networks operating in the provinces are likely to target polling stations in the provinces of Tombocutou, Kidal, Gao and Mopti. The poll is therefore expected to be limited in these locations to major urban areas with heavy military presence. The same is true for certain locations in the provinces of Kayes, Koulikoro and Segou. In recent months, communal violence between Peuls (Fulani tribe) and the ethnic Dogos ‘hunters’ has occurred regularly in Mopti province.

The security situation remains very tense despite the heavy presence of troops belonging to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The likelihood of further disruption related to jihadists insurgents operating the North of the country is intensified as a result of the forthcoming election.

Politicians have suggested delaying the election until the security crisis has been resolved. However, the government appears to assess the situation as stable. Members of the opposition have requested MINUSMA implement security procedures in order to allow for a free and fair national poll to take place. Additionally, members of the opposition have requested the presence of international observers throughout the process.

Security Recommendations

When visiting Mali, comprehensive mitigation measures should be implemented to ensure a reduction in exposure to inherent risks, particularly during the course of the upcoming election period. Avoid vulnerable places with limited security measures, be vigilant, and take appropriate steps to improve your personal security. Travel outside the capital should be considered ill advised and impossible in the northern part of the country without military escort.

The election is highly likely to heighten the propensity of groups to engage in civil unrest, which will result in an increase in police check points. It is exceedingly important to avoid getting involved in any large gatherings and monitor the local media as often as possible. Keep vehicle and personal identification documents with you at all times while travelling by road. Approach security checkpoints slowly and comply with instructions given. There have been incidents late at night where people dressed as police officers have demanded money from drivers in Bamako. Ask to see identification. Don’t resist if the person is armed.

All security personnel should remain vigilant at all times to identify warning indicators in situations which may escalate into violence. If confronted by criminals, armed or otherwise, it is advised not to resist and demands should be complied with. Historically when criminals have encountered resistance they do not hesitate to use force resulting in fatalities.

You can monitor daily developments in English through the BBC World Service (88.9 FM in Bamako).

The complete report is available for download at the following link:  Presidential Elections in Mali

This report is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this report. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information within the report but Salama Fikira can take no responsibility for inaccuracies of fact or deduction. All images are subject to copyright.