Mali update – 7-28-13

National elections held today, Sunday, in Mali. Some news over the last few days, including flash reports during election day:

7-24 – Wall Street Journal –With Rebellion Stifled, Mali Looks to ElectionGood article for background on Mali, war over last year, current issues, and concerns on how well the election will go with registration not very complete in remote villages.  Election schedule for 7-28 with run off on 8-11 if needed.

7-27 – Africa Is a Country – Malians educating Malians ahead of elections – Description of association (I would call it an NPO in the US context) that is explaining the voting process to Malians.

Election won’t be perfect for several reasons, including a potential voter must return to the town where registered during the 2009 census. Might be tough for those who are dislocated. Also, people who reached voting age since 2009 aren’t on the voting register.

Raises the old question – is it better to have a not-quite-perfect, sort-of-good election now or wait who knows how long until a really good, very-high-quality election can be held sometime in the future. Watching from far away, it seems to me that after a coup and war (that hasn’t quite ended) the first option is wonderful progress in restoring & building democracy.

7-28 – New York Times – Mali Holds Elections After Year of Turmoil – Flash report asserts the election was peaceful.

On the question of whether to hold the vote until everything is ready, looki at this comment from Soumail Cisse, one of the 27 candidates:

 “Why can’t people read my platform?” he continued. “Because people haven’t had the chance to go to school, to be educated.”

“If we wait for everything to be perfect, we will never be ready for elections,” said Mr. Cissé.

I’m probably showing more bias than I realize by saying I agree with him. It is a circular problem – without stability and education, people won’t be able to read his platform to wisely select him or another candidate to produce the systemic changes that will create stability and education to allow a fully perfect and completely legitimate election which will be needed to produce stability and education….

The article also discusses those coming of age since the 2009 census – possible 350k people. Also there are possibly 500K displaced persons, who won’t be able to get to their hometown to vote.

7-28 – The Guardian – Mali elections: high turnout reported in presidential election – Preliminary reports suggest very high turnout. Article discusses same procedural issues mentioned previously.

7-28 – Wall Street Journal – Northern Malian Vote Amid Intimidation in a Nation Divided – Anecdotal reports show voter intimidation and low turnout in north, this from a reporter on the scene.  Inference is the results may not be accepted in the north. When 90% of the population lives in the south, the turnout in the north isn’t likely to have much of an impact on the vote.

Results expected by about Wednesday.

What say you? Am I missing something? Missing everything? Care to further enlighten me?

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