Mali elec­tions marred by de­lays, protests

The Star (Kenya) - - News -

Malians burned bal­lot boxes and protested against long-de­layed lo­cal elec­tions this week­end. The polls will fill posts left va­cant in the north since Is­lamist mil­i­tants hi­jacked a 2012 Tuareg re­bel­lion and ousted the gov­ern­ment.

The ji­hadists were driven out a year later by a French-led mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion, but have con­tin­ued to launch strikes on army and UN tar­gets from their desert bases.They have in­ten­si­fied their in­sur­gency in re­cent months and spread fur­ther south.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties, as well as a va­ri­ety of armed groups par­tic­i­pat­ing in a UN-led peace process, have crit­i­cised Sun­day’s poll. They point to deep di­vi­sions still af­fect­ing the for­mer French colony three years af­ter the war.

While lo­cals formed or­derly lines out­side of polling booths in the cap­i­tal Bamako, vot­ing was can­celled in dis­tricts around Tim­buktu af­ter unidentified armed men burned bal­lot boxes, res­i­dents and of­fi­cials said.

“The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is not right for elec­tions be­cause the ma­jor­ity of our pop­u­la­tion are scat­tered in dif­fer­ent refugee camps,” said Am­gar Ag Ye­hia, a Tim­buktu res­i­dent.

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