Keita claims victory in Mali presidential run-off


Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won re-election “comfortably” based on his campaign’s vote count, his spokesman said, dismissing opposition claims they won.

With official results not expected for a few days, both sides are swapping counter-claims and accusations since Monday’s second-round run-off.

The ballot pitted Keita, seeking a second term to rule the West African gold- and cotton-producing country, against opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who said the vote was fraudulent and he was victor.

Cisse has not provided concrete evidence for his accusations and Keita denied any wrongdoing.

The poll was tarnished by voting irregularities and militant violence that shut nearly 500 polling stations on Monday, about two percent of the total. Turnout was also low.
“The results issued from our campaign headquarters indicate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita would be comfortably re-elected,” campaign manager Bocary Treta told reporters.

European Union observers saw irregularities but not fraud.
“The vote generally took place calmly, despite security incidents in the centre and north,” EU mission head Cecile Kyenge told reporters in Bamako.
“Our observers did not see fraud but problems of irregularities,” she said, citing threats by armed groups and a lack of communication between election officials.

Mali is a major concern for Western powers due to the presence of militant groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

EU observers did not deploy to some regions in the north and centre due to repeated attacks by jihadist groups and ethnic militia this year that killed hundreds of civilians, Malian troops and UN peacekeepers.

A Malian observer group estimated turnout for the second round at only about 27 % of eight million registered voters due to security fears and voter apathy.

Keita won the first round on July 29 with about 41% of the vote despite his government’s failure to slow surging violence.