Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will face opposition figure Soumaila Cisse in a run-off vote on August 12 after neither secured more than 50 percent in the first round of the presidential election, an official said late Thursday.
In Sunday’s poll Keita won 41.42 percent, with Cisse polling 17.80 percent, according to provisional results, said Territorial Administration Minister Mohamed Ag Erlafk on ORTM public television.
Businessman Aliou Diallo came third with 7.95 percent and former transitional Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, an astrophysicist who held that office for eight months in 2012, completed the top four with 7.46 percent.
Voters in the vast west African country had 24 candidates to choose from in the key poll for the troubled Sahel region.
Via his twitter account, 73 year old Keita thanked Malians.
“Thanks to you, I’m in the lead… this is clear evidence of your trust.”
Grâce à vous, je suis en tête du premier tour avec 41,42% des voix ! Ceci est une preuve évidente de votre confiance accordée. Nous avancerons encore plus loin, ensemble !
— Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (@IBKMALI2018) August 2, 2018
The second round on August 12 will be a repeat of the 2013 run-off, with Keita again facing former finance minister Cisse.
“I was expecting a single round, the voters decided otherwise,” said Mamadou Wague, an activist with the ruling party, predicting Keita would finally win a victory “even more emblematic than 2013,” when he took more than 77 percent of the vote.
Before the announcement, challengers Cisse and Diallo had said they would not accept the election results “marred by irregularities”.
“For the first time in the history of Malian democracy, a president in office is forced to a second round,” Cisse, 68, said on Twitter after the results, adding that the plan to have Keita re-elected in the first round had failed “despite the fraud”.
Pour la 1ère fois dans l'histoire de la démocratie malienne, un président en exercice est contraint à un 2è tour.
— Soumaïla CISSÉ (@Soumailacisse) August 2, 2018
Turnout was 43.06 percent, rather higher than the average seen in Mali where less than a third of over-15s are literate.
The international community hopes the poll will strengthen a 2015 accord that Mali, a linchpin state in the Sahel region, sees as the cornerstone for peace.
On the campaign trail, Keita — commonly known by his initials IBK — had highlighted the achievements of the peace agreement between the government, government-allied groups and Tuareg former rebels to fight jihadist fighters in the country’s north.
Cisse, and other challengers, however have accused Keita of incompetence on security matters.
Attacks disrupted voting Sunday in areas already beset by deadly ethnic and jihadist violence
EU monitors had reported that round 700 of the 23,000 polling stations — mainly in the north and centre of the country — were unable to open due to violent incidents, but the polling “went ahead calmly” throughout the rest of the country. Dailymail