Nearly 250,000 people couldn’t vote ‘for various reasons’: Mali govt

Malian opposition presidential candidates (L to R) Mountaga Tall, Choguel Maiga and Soumaila Cisse talk during a press conference about the results of the first round of the presidential election, on August 6, 2018 in Bamako, ahead of the second round scheduled on August 12. (AFP)
Updated 07 August 2018

Nearly 250,000 people couldn’t vote ‘for various reasons’: Mali govt

  • The government had earlier said that 715 polling stations had remained closed out of a total 23,000 nationwide
  • The jihadist violence has spread from northern Mali to the center and south of the country and spilled over into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, often inflaming communal conflicts

BAMAKO: The Mali government on Monday published a list of 871 polling stations which were unable to operate during last week’s presidential election due to outbreaks of violence, adding that almost a quarter of a million people had been unable to vote.
A total of 245,888 voters — mainly in northern Timbuktu region, central Mopti and Segou in the south — “were unable to vote for various reasons” during the July 21 election, the ministry of territorial administration said.
The government was responding to calls by the opposition and the European Union to provide more details of the contested vote results.
The three main opposition candidates in Mali’s presidential election announced Sunday they were mounting a legal challenge in the country’s constitutional court alleging “ballot box-stuffing” and other irregularities, after incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita took the lead in the first round of voting.
Keita won 41.42 percent of the vote in July’s presidential poll, according to provisional results, easily ahead of the second place rival Soumaila Cisse with 17.8 percent. They are set to contest a runoff vote next Sunday.
The government had earlier said that 715 polling stations had remained closed out of a total 23,000 nationwide.
Two days after polling took place the European Union pressured Mali to present a “complete and detailed list” of polling stations where a key presidential election could not be held due to violence.
Security was a central issue during the campaign, in which 73-year-old Keita is seeking re-election with the international community hoping the poll will strengthen a 2015 peace accord.
In Mali’s north, where the state is barely present, armed groups who signed the peace accord helped to ensure security.
The vote was monitored by observers from the European Union, the African Union, the regional ECOWAS grouping and the Francophonie organization.
Violence also marred the lead-up to the election, despite the presence of 15,000 UN peacekeepers, 4,500 French troops and a much heralded five-nation anti-terror G5 Sahel force.
The jihadist violence has spread from northern Mali to the center and south of the country and spilled over into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, often inflaming communal conflicts.
On Monday 18 of the presidential candidates denounced an “electoral hold-up” and called for a major protest in Bamako on Tuesday.
The constitutional court is due to officially announce the first-round results on Wednesday.
Mali, considered a linchpin state in west Africa’s troubled Sahel region, is one of the world’s poorest countries, with most people living on less than $2 a day.


Authorities make more arrests in Indian Kashmir to deter protests

Updated 9 min 1 sec ago

Authorities make more arrests in Indian Kashmir to deter protests

  • Crowds have demonstrated frequently in the city despite a severe clampdown on phone and Internet services
  • Youth have pelted stones at paramilitary police deployed in Srinagar

SRINAGAR, India: Security forces detained 30 people overnight in Indian Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, local officials said on Tuesday, seeking to keep a tight lid on protests over the federal government’s decision to strip the region of its autonomy.
Crowds have demonstrated frequently in the city despite a severe clampdown on phone and Internet services, a ban on public gatherings and detentions of hundreds of political leaders and separatists who have long campaigned for secession from India.
Youth have pelted stones at paramilitary police deployed in Srinagar, and the latest detentions took place in parts of the city where such incidents have occurred, a police officer said.
“These arrests have been made in the areas where there has been intensifying stone pelting in the last few days,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
A local government official confirmed the latest detentions.
The withdrawal of the special privileges of Muslim majority Kashmir means residents of all parts of India can buy property and compete for government jobs and college places, raising fears that it will be flooded with outsiders.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise move has also increased tensions with arch rival Pakistan which lays claim to Kashmir and has accused India of human rights violations in the territory at the heart of more than 70 years of hostility between them.
US President Donald Trump spoke to Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday urging them to reduce tensions over Kashmir. “A tough situation, but good conversations!” Trump said in a Twitter post after the calls.
Authorities in Indian Kashmir on Monday said the protests were local and small in nature involving no more than a dozen people. Still, primary schools remained deserted on Tuesday as they were the previous day as parents worried about the safety of their children kept them at home.
Reuters visited three schools in Srinagar including Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School and no students had turned up and classes were deserted.
“Some teachers reported to duty but left as there were no students”, said an official of the school.
Authorities had ordered schools to reopen on Monday after a two-week closure as a sign of normalcy. Srinagar’s top city official Shahid Choudhary asked schools to ensure resumption of bus services.
A driver, however, said it was difficult to operate buses in such a volatile situation. “It is very risky for us and the students,” he said.