Massive numbers of Malians turn out to vote in the country’s presidential election
The first round of Mali’s presidential election took place in an atmosphere of calm and witnessed considerable voter turnout, including many young people and women. On Sunday more than 6 million Malians cast their ballots in the presidential election.
"It is the first time that I have stood in line to cast a vote, and a great many other voters have also been prepared to wait their turn. In fact, some of those who voted on Sunday had never done so in their lives, but they turned up this time in order to make their voices heard,” said Anta, one of those who headed to the Kalaban centre in Bamako to cast their ballots. “Indeed, I have never seen so many people turn out to vote as I did today."
At another voting centre, Drissa Samaké headed for the exit, helped by his grandson.
"I am 89 years old and can even remember the days when people would travel from Mali to Senegal on foot. So why do I bother to vote? To try to achieve a better future, for the sake of my children and grandchildren, and to ensure that change can take place," he added.
For a great many Malians, these elections usher in the end of the crisis that has ravaged the country for almost a year.
The European Union, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and Belgium financed the election to the tune of US $50 million in community funds. UNDP managed these funds, and also implemented a project for supporting electoral activities, providing invaluable assistance in regard to voting operations for the Territorial Administration Ministry, the General Electoral Delegation and the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI). The United States also helped finance the election.
The UNDP has also provided assistance to the General Electoral Directorate (DGE) for the registration of 6,829,696 voters through a biometric database, approved by all political parties and disaggregated according to gender and region.
Furthermore, the UNDP has committed to paying the training and work-related expenses for approximately 125,000 electoral agents for polling stations, along with the delivery of voting equipment throughout the whole country. And in the north of Mali, in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, areas which have experienced conflict, voting stations were able to function thanks to the provision of electric power generators.
In the areas of civic education and electoral mobilization for the general public, grants were allocated to 45 institutions and NGOs in order to bolster the capacities of political parties, to promote the resolution of electoral conflicts and disputes, to facilitate voting by refugees, to arrange for electoral monitoring, and to foster participation by women.