More than 8 million registered Malian voters are heading to polls Sunday to cast their ballots in the presidential elections despite the deafening political unrest and widespread insecurity in the West African nation.
Twenty-four candidates are contesting for Mali's presidency, most notable incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar KeA�ta, 73, and opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, 68. Other popular names among the presidential candidates include the erstwhile prime minister of the transitional government after the 2012 coup, Cheick Modibo Diarra, 66, NASA's first African astrophysicist, and Aliou Boubacar Diallo, 58, leader of the Democratic Alliance for Peace-Maliba (ADP-Maliba). All candidates have promised to reverse the country's decline and help end pervasive poverty.
On the eve of the presidential election, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that despite clear security challenges, voters in Mali needed to ensure that the key poll was first and foremost an important celebration of democracy.
The UN Stabilization Mission in the country (MINUSMA) has been busy providing logistical support to the government, especially in the country's restive north and center, where an alliance of extremists and Tuareg rebels have been launching attacks with increasing frequency and ferocity against government troops and UN peacekeepers.
Source: International Islamic News Agency