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Mali’s keita re-elected president in landslide victory

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Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has been re-elected for a five-year term after winning a landslide victory in a runoff ballot, according to official figures Thursday.

The elections have been closely watched abroad, as Mali is a linchpin state in the jihadist insurgency raging in the Sahel.

Keita, 73, picked up 67.17 percent of the vote on Sunday against 32.83 for opposition challenger and former finance minister Soumaila Cisse, 68, who also ran against Keita in 2013, the government announced. Turnout was low, at 34.5%.

Mali, a landlocked nation home to at least 20 ethnic groups where most people live on less than $2 (1.76 euros) a day, has been battling a years-long Islamic revolt that has now fuelled intercommunal violence.

Hundreds of people have died this year alone, most of them in Mopti, an ethnic mosaic in central Mali, in violence involving the Fulani nomadic herder community and Bambara and Dogon farmers.

Keita’s response to the burgeoning security crisis was the big campaign issue, with opposition candidates rounding on him for alleged incompetence or indifference.

But the verbal assaults failed to dent his core support, and a fractured opposition and widespread voter apathy left him firm favourite in the final round.

Voting was also marred by jihadist attacks that forced the closure of a small percentage of polling stations, and by allegations of ballot-box stuffing and other irregularities.

The three main opposition candidates mounted a legal challenge to the first-round result, but their bid was rejected by the Constitutional Court.


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