BAMAKO, Mali — Mali’s presidential election will go to a runoff vote after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta failed to get enough votes to win a second term outright, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by the government.
Mr. Keïta won 41.4 percent of the vote in Mali, a West African country that is mostly desert, while his rival, Soumaïla Cissé, won 17.8 percent, the Ministry of Territorial Administration said.
With neither candidate obtaining the 50 percent required to win outright, the two will take part in a runoff election later this month. Turnout was just over 43 percent, in line with the historical average.
Mali, a gold and cotton producer and a former French colony, has a history of peaceful elections, but this vote was marred by claims of irregularities and attacks by suspected militants that prevented thousands from voting.
Armed assailants shut down more than 600 polling stations on Sunday, representing about 3 percent of the total. About a fifth were troubled by violence, officials said.
That has fueled doubts about the election’s credibility and worries that it did not fully reflect the will of Malians, large numbers of whom are spread across a vast desert where jihadists with links to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State roam.
Islamist militants took over the north in 2012 on the back of an ethnic rebellion, imposing strict versions of Islamic law until French troops intervened a year later to push them back. Militants have since regained territory and influence, making many citizens scared to turn out for the election.
Orignially published in NYT.