Mali commenced voting for its parliamentary seats despite concerns over the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic and insecurity in the country.
The vote will see new Members of Parliament MP elected to the 147-seat National Assembly for the first time since 2013, when President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s Rally for Mali party won a substantial majority.
Sunday’s vote came hours after the violence-hit West African country announced its first coronavirus death, with the number of infections rising to 18 and days after main opposition leader Soumaila Cisse was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen. Aljazeera reports.
According to Aljazeera, the government’s election spokesman, Amini Belko Maiga, admitted that the voting conditions were not ideal.
“It’s true that we cannot say that everything is perfect, but we’re doing the maximum,” he said, referring to the threat of coronavirus. He added that hand-washing kits had been distributed in the countryside, while in the capital, Bamako, authorities would make masks and hand sanitisers available.
The parliamentary elections were meant to take place in late 2018 following Keita’s re-election, but the poll was postponed several times, largely due to security concerns.
After Sunday’s first-round vote, a second round is scheduled for April 19.
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