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Mali presidential challenger goes to court alleging vote fraud

Aug 5, 2018 | AFP
Mali opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse has called first-round election results
Mali opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse has called first-round election results "neither sincere, nor credible" and "a fraud". By ISSOUF SANOGO (AFP/File)

Opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse said Sunday he is mounting a legal challenge in Mali's constitutional court alleging "ballot box-stuffing" after he came in a distant second to incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the first round of the country's presidential election last month.

Keita won 41.42 percent of votes in the July 29 presidential poll in the sprawling African nation, easily ahead of Cisse with 17.8 percent. They will face off in a second-round runoff next Sunday.

"Soumaila Cisse filed last night (Saturday) around 20 submissions to the constitutional court for ballot box-stuffing, violations of the electoral law and other irregularities," a spokesman for the candidate told AFP.

"The ballot box-stuffing explains IBK's tallies in the north and centre" of the country, the spokesman added, using Keita's initials.

He said a motion had also been filed seeking the "recusal of six of the court's judges on suspicion of bias, including its president" Manassa Danioko.

After the vote Cisse, a former finance minister, has called for a "broad democratic front" against Keita, and his party said the new "collective" challenge was backed by 17 of the 22 eliminated first-round candidates.

Third-placed Aliou Boubacar Diallo, who won 7.95 percent of the July 19 vote, has also filed a complaint to the constitutional court "concerning the results and the vote tallying," his spokesman Cheick Diallo told AFP.

The nine-judge constitutional court must officially announce the results of the first round by Wednesday to kick off campaigning for the run-off vote -- which Keita is heavily favoured to win -- on August 12.

When questioned by AFP, the court's secretary-general Mamadou Magassouba said he could not confirm receipt of Cisse's submission because such "requests come in confidentiality".

He also declined to comment on allegations of bias in the court.

Cisse, 68, whom Keita defeated in a 2013 run-off vote, has called the latest vote results "neither sincere nor credible" and "a fraud".

Violence disrupted the first-round election in several areas beset by ethnic and jihadist unrest despite the deployment of 30,000 security personnel.

The international community, including the UN mission in the country (MINUSMA) and French forces present in the country, have put high hopes in the poll which could revive a peace agreement signed in 2015 between the government, government-allied groups and former rebels.

Mali, considered a linchpin state in the troubled Sahel region, is one of the world's poorest countries, with most people living on less than $2 a day.

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