Factbox: Main contenders in the race for Mali’s presidency


Mali holds a presidential election on Sunday after more than a year of turmoil including a coup and a French-led military intervention to free the north from al Qaeda-allied Islamist rebels.

Here are some details on the main candidates out of a field of 27 running in the election, Reuters reports.
– Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

Universally known as IBK, Keita is the political heavyweight in the election race. He has held several portfolios in previous governments and served as prime minister from 1994-2000.

Keita, who heads the RPM party, was also president of Mali’s National Assembly before launching failed bids for the national presidency in the 2002 and 2007 elections.

IBK has campaigned on pledges to restore Mali’s ‘honor’ and, having stood up to trade unions when he was prime minister, has a reputation for firmness that many Malians believe is needed to restore the rule of law across the divided nation.
– Soumaila Cisse

A native of Timbuktu region and a software engineer by training, Cisse was a top presidency official and served as a minister for much of the 1990s, including a stint in charge of the finance portfolio.

Having failed to secure the ADEMA party candidacy in a 2002 election, he set up his own party, the URD. But he subsequently spent seven years in charge of the West African monetary union, based in neighboring Burkina Faso.

Cisse has earned respect as an economist although he has not escaped accusations of mismanagement and was accused of corruption by the military junta that seized power in the March 2012 coup.
– Modibo Sidibe

A former senior policeman and ex-minister for health and foreign affairs, Sidibe was also a long-serving prime minister under President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was ousted in the coup.

Sidibe’s experience in government could be as much of a burden as a bonus as members of the elite surrounding the ousted president have been accused of widespread corruption.
– Dramane Dembele

ADEMA, historically Mali’s best established party, has picked Dembele, a geologist with little political experience, as its candidate for the vote.

The choice of the 46-year-old is likely aimed at appealing to the youth vote.

But the clout of Mali’s biggest party could be weakened by internal divisions over his candidacy and frustrations among many Malians that ADEMA was central to years of misrule that led to the crisis.