By Thompson ABISOLA
The third party in Mali’s presidential election on Tuesday claimed that its candidate made it through to a run-off vote, further complicating a poll beset by violence that has stopped thousands from casting their ballots.
Candidates are forbidden by law to announce results before they are officially released, but rival parties have given differing outlooks based on their own polling, raising tensions in the desert country where ethnic and Islamist violence are a constant threat.
A spokesman for the Democratic Alliance for Peace said its candidate, gold magnate Aliou Diallo, had come second and won enough votes in Sunday’s election to force a two-candidate second round poll in August.
“Given the results we compiled, we are in the second round, we claim the second place,” Ibrahim Tiocary said.
He also complained of irregularities during the vote, a charge he did not elaborate on.
His statement follows similar claims on Monday from incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who is seeking a second term and believes he is in the lead, and rival Soumaila Cisse, whose camp said it has made it to a second round run-off against Keita.
“Adding to tension surrounding the vote is the fact that of the roughly 23,000 polling stations that were meant to open on Sunday.
“4,632 were disrupted by “armed attacks or other violence,” of which 644 were unable to operate, the Ministry of Territorial Administration said on Monday.
That has fueled complaints from a number of parties that the vote will 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 Islamic State roam with near impunity.
Islamist militants took over the north in 2012 on the back of a Tuareg rebellion, imposing Sharia law until France intervened a year later to push them back.
Militants have since regained territory and influence and spiraling violence became a key issue in the campaign, as attacks multiplied in the lead up to the vote.
Not every party is rushing to say they have won Sunday’s vote.
“Today, nobody can say who will be in the second round, it is necessary to wait until the administration finishes its work,” said Moussa Mara, campaign director for Cheick Modibo Diarra.