France hails Mali elections 'a great success'
People across Mali cast ballots yesterday in the country’s first presidential vote after more than a year of turmoil under a provisional, unelected government. Some observers and local politicians initially warned that Mali shouldn’t bow to international pressure to hold the vote as chaos in the West African country persisted and thousands remained displaced.
But nevertheless, the vote went peacefully and France hailed the landmark elections as a “great success” for France, which sent thousands of troops into the country’s vast desert to drive out an Islamist push in the north after a March 2012 coup.
“Congratulations are in order that the Mali elections went off well…For France, it is a great suceess,” French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.
In the capital, Bamako, reports portrayed citizens making orderly lines at polling stations, and thousands dipped their fingers in coloured dye to indicate that they already voted.
Most polling stations in Bamako saw record high participation between 55 and 65 percent and over 50 percent in Timbuktu, according to Reuters.
Turnout for a presidential election in Mali has never topped 40 per cent, and just 25 per cent of Bamako’s registered voters cast a ballot in the last 2007 presidential election.
“France in no way wanted to do anything linked to the past or to militarism or paternalism but on the contrary to give Africa and in this case Mali every chance to become a democratic independent nation, which can ensure its own development,” Ayrault said.
French President François Hollande also welcomed the smooth running of the vote, “marked by good turnout and an absence of any major incident.”
International donors lined up billions of dollars in aid under the provision that the country at least had a façade of democracy, and hence, fuelling the push to hold quick elections.
But proponents of the elections said the vote could end months of uncertainty and reinvigorate the country’s 20-year old democracy.
Provisional results are expected for Tuesday.
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