Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced on state TV he would run for re-election in a poll scheduled for the end of July.
Keita (73) was widely expected to run for a second term, but had not confirmed his intention. He faces growing political opposition in Bamako, especially among disaffected youth, a raging Islamist insurgency and tit-for-tat ethnic killing in the north.
“I present myself as a candidate in the presidential election of July 29,” Keita said on state TV. “I ask you to trust in me again.”
A dozen other candidates also announced their candidacy, the strongest of which is opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, a former finance minister.
Rising violence across Mali cast doubts over the feasibility of elections in some parts, especially the north, where Islamist groups exploit chaos and lawlessness to use the desert region as a springboard for attacks.
Dozens of ethnic Tuareg and Fulani civilians have been killed in inter-communal violence in the north, stoked by Islamists, while insurgents killed scores of UN peacekeepers and government soldiers.
Growth hovers around five percent, owing to strong cotton and gold output, but population growth at over three percent has eaten into those gains. Corruption remains endemic, and Mali ranks 175 on the UN Human Development Index, only 12 from the bottom.