April 30, 2007


Malians vote in model election for Africa (Simon Usborne, 30 April 2007, Independent)

It is one of the world's poorest countries and lies at the heart of a region often marred by vote rigging and polling day violence, but as Malians await the results of yesterday's election - their fourth free ballot in 15 years - the former French colony is quickly emerging as a democratic model for Africa.

A steady trickle of voters began lining up early yesterday morning at polling stations in Bamako, the Mali capital, and throughout the vast West African state, which stretches from the windswept dunes of the Saharan north to the fertile cotton fields that lie beside the River Niger in the south.

Soldiers guarded voting centres and early balloting was reported to be calm and orderly, in stark contrast to the bloody chaos that beset elections in Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, earlier this month.

Most voters predicted an easy re-election victory for former coup leader, President Amadou Toumani Touré, known as "The Soldier of Malian Democracy" by his supporters after he saved the country from decades of dictatorship.

Speaking to reporters after voting in central Bamako, Mr Touré, who faced competition from seven other candidates, was quick to affirm that elections would be free and fair.

"My wish is for a turnout which reflects our democratic culture," he said as supporters mobbed him chanting "ATT", the initials by which is he popularly known.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2007 7:11 AM
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