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Campaigning underway in Mali presidential election

Campaigning underway in Mali presidential election
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Campaigning for the presidential election at the end of the month has begun in Mali. Twenty eight candidates are trying to persuade voters that they are the best person for the job.

It is hoped that the elections will draw a line under a turbulent 18 months that saw Al Qaeda militants seize the north of the country and then a French military assault on the Islamists in January.

Many Malians though are concerned that the elections are being held under foreign pressure, before the country is ready.

Gao resident, Maiga, said: “There is no administration even in Gao, there is nothing. There is no administration in Kidal either. How can you conduct an election in such an environment ?”

Voting cards are being sent out, but it is not clear how many people will receive them in time, with more than 500,000 Malians displaced by the conflict. Analysts also estimate that another 350,000 Malians are not on the electoral roll.

Critics say it will be hard to lay the foundations for rebuilding a nation if hundreds of thousands miss out on voting.

The elections are due to be held on 28 July.