Voters in Mali headed to the polls in a presidential election that residents are hoping will give the country a fresh start. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Voters in Mali headed to the polls on Sunday in a presidential election that residents are hoping will give the country a fresh start. Candidates ended campaigns promising reconstruction and reconciliation. But, underscoring security fears despite a successful French offensive against al Qaeda-linked fighters, an Islamist group threatened to attack polling stations. Separatist and Islamist rebels swept across the desert north of the former French colony last year, shortly after soldiers ousted the president. Thousands of French troops halted a rebel advance in January and United Nations peacekeepers are deploying to stabilise the broken nation. A successful vote on Sunday would take the gold-producing country another step towards recovery. In Timbuktu, where sharia law was imposed during the occupation by Islamist militants, voters were excited to make their voices heard. In the run-up to the poll, experts warned that a rushed election might lead to further problems. But election officials say they have distributed 85 percent of the ID cards and that a free and fair race in a field of 26 men and one women could take place. A second round of voting will take place on Aug. 11 if no candidate wins over 50 percent of the vote.