Mali elections marred by delays, protests
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.