1.Security is a huge concern
Central and northern Mali have been shaken by violence for years, but there has been an uptick in recent months. A U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum report in April warned that armed groups are vying for power in a “vacuum of state authority.” On Wednesday, just days before the election, the central city of Timbuktu was crippled by armed Arab protesters. In some localities, the lack of security may make it difficult to organize voting operations.
2. Grievances still run high in central and northern Mali
On July 20, under a high military escort, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita visited the city of Kidal in the north of the country for the first time in five years. Keita’s meeting took place in a room in which the flag of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) was flying. This was a reminder of the 2012 Tuareg separatist rebellion, which failed — but effectively brought down the government of former president Amadou Toumani Touré. Keita’s visit suggests that Mali is not yet fully unified and that the central government of Bamako does not have control of the entire national territory.
3. There is no agreement on the electoral register
Opposition parties, including the URD, led by Soumaila Cïssé, the main challenger to Keita, claim that the July 4 online electoral register does not correspond to the initial electoral register audited by the International Organization of the Francophonie on April 27. The initial electoral register had 8,000,462 voters — while the government’s online register now has 8,105,154 names. Government officials rejected the existence of parallel electoral registers, claiming technical issues led to this misunderstanding. But the situation raises suspicions of electoral fraud — and that threatens the credibility of the electoral process. There is an urgent need to resolve this dispute before the election.
4. Election officials claim the funding may not be enough to ensure adequate voting operations
The dispute between the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and the Finance Ministry over the election budget may affect the actual voting operations. From a budget of nearly 2,992 billion CFA francs, roughly $5.3 million, the CENI received only 2,142 billion CFA francs, roughly $3.8 million, for the supervision of the presidential election. According to CENI President Amadou Ba, organizing voting operations will be difficult because of the shortfall. Poorly managed voting operations could lead to electoral disputes, including the rejection of the outcome of the elections.