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Mali: Local observers react to referendum vote

Malian nationals look at electoral lists for the referendum on the draft of the new Malian constitution in the district of Adjame, Ivory Coast on June 18, 2023   -  
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SIA KAMBOU/AFP or licensors


As Malians awaited the results of Sunday’s referendum on a new constitution, the chairman of the Modele Mali observation mission gave Monday (June 19) an overview of the voting process.

The disenfranchisement of voters living in the northern region of Kidal which is controlled by former rebels is highly contested. Modele Mali says its observers witnessed no vote there.

''There was no vote in Kidal, nor in Tessalith, nor in Aguelhok, nor in Ashiboko, nor in Tenessako, there was no vote, Dr Ibrahima Sangho said. 

"Because we have 150 observers who were trained in Kidal and who were deployed in Kidal, we have not heard of any vote in Kidal. "

Contradictory reports from the strategic region of Kidal

Another observer group, the Coalition pour l'observation citoyenne des élections au Mali (COCEM), reported that none of its observers had noted the opening of voting centers and polling stations in the Kidal region.

A document authenticated by AFP from the regional branch of the authority in charge of elections (AIGE) in Kidal also states that the referendum could not be held throughout the region.

The president of the AIGE at national level, Moustapha S.M .Cissé, rejected these assertions, maintaining in a press release that the vote had indeed taken place in the Kidal region.

He denounced "the dissemination of false documents and information", relayed by individuals "with no standing to speak" on behalf of the body.

Whether or not the vote would be held in Kidal, a stronghold of armed groups that fought the central state before signing a fragile peace agreement with it in 2015, was being closely scrutinized.

The former rebel controlling the region have long been in désaccord with the military junta ruling Mali. And are opposed to the draft constitution.

Modele Mali is a team of observers from civil society groups funded by the European Union. The group reported a 28% turnout in the polling stations where its 3, 075 observers were deployed.

Dr Sangho insisted on the credibility of local observers.

"Is this credible, if there are no international observers, you ask?"

"Yes, it is. As time goes by, the international observer is in the process of withdrawing in favour of the national observer. If you look at the MODELE Mali, 3000 observers throughout the country, we are everywhere in the Republic of Mali. We are everywhere. We are in the cercles, we are in the regions, including Kidal."

Modele Mali also reported that over 80 polling stations in Mopti, in the centre of the country, were not open "due to insecurity".

The group said that a "terrorist attack" had disrupted voting in Bodio (Mopti region), but did not give further details.

In Menaka, a northern region contending with rebels linked to the Islamic State group, voting was limited to its capital due to insecurity, local elected officials said.

Turnout -- typically low in the country of 21 million -- will be seen as an indicator of the junta's ability to restore stability and generate popular enthusiasm for its agenda.

Results are expected in the coming days.

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