Mali’s 2018 presidential election


The presidential election in Mali was held, as scheduled, on 29 July 2018. According to the provisional results on 2 August, the incumbent president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK), won 41.4% of the vote. His main challenger Soumaïla Cissé (Soumi) obtained 17.8%. Turnout was 43%. A run-off election is scheduled for 12 August 2018. Some 8 million Malians -- less than half of Mali’s population -- registered and were entitled to choose one of the 24 candidates running for presidency. Some 23 041 polling stations were set up across the country. The election was peaceful overall, but there were some disruptions and incidents of violence, mainly in central and northern Mali. At least 6 400 sites reported disruptions and nearly 700 sites were unable to operate. ECOWAS deployed an election observation mission with some 150 observers, led by former ECOWAS Commission President Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo. As tensions are rising, the UN is calling upon all parties to respect the election results. Several candidates have already announced that they will contest the results.  President IBK was elected in 2013 on the promise of curbing violence, and his 2018 campaign again focused on security. Cissé’s campaign also mainly focused on “peace” and “bringing new hope for a new Mali.” However, both candidates are part of Mali’s political elite, which has been ruling the country for decades. Faced with the threat of an Islamist insurgency, the country largely depends on international support. “No one is under the illusion that [the] Malian presidential election will fundamentally change the political landscape,” explained Arthur Boutellis from the International Peace Institute. “But it could serve to restart discussions between Malian authorities and its many, but too often, uncoordinated international partners on a genuine and holistic medium-term security sector reform vision and a realistic strategy adapted to the needs of populations and to new security threats.”


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