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Mali dismisses poll candidates for fraud

Candidates from three constituencies in West African country dismissed for stuffing ballot boxes after court ruling.

Last updated: 02 Jan 2014 02:20
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The party of Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is still the overall winner [File: Reuters]

Mali has dismissed candidates from three constituencies for stuffing ballot boxes in a parliamentary election meant to complete the country's transition to democracy after a 2012 army coup.

The West African country's constitutional court was flooded with complaints of electoral fraud from rival parties following the first round of legislative elections in November.

I only want peace, nothing but peace in all regions of Mali, in all communities of Mali, which must take control of their development.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, president of Mali

A total of nine candidates on lists for the constituencies Nara, Niono et Gao were affected, the court said.

The dismissals did not change the overall outcome which granted a victory for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's (IBK) RPM party, with 67 of a total 147 seats in Parliament. Adema, the RPM's main ally, finished second with 16 seats.

The confirmation of the final results is due to unlock $3.25bn of donor pledges to rebuild the West African country after rebels seized control of the north in the coup's aftermath.

France sought to drive out the fighters linked to al Qaeda a year ago in a military intervention, helping to clear the way for elections.

Since his election in August, Keita has struggled to exert control over the lawless northern region where some rebel fighters remain active and have launched attacks.

In the latest indication of the ongoing security challenges, two rockets were fired on Wednesday and landed next to the northern city of Kidal's airport but failed to explode, according to a resident.

The president spoke of his hopes for peace in his new year address to the nation on Tuesday.

"I only want peace, nothing but peace in all regions of Mali, in all communities of Mali, which must take control of their development in a state that will no longer be a Jacobin, a centraliser, but rather a distributor and regulator," he said in the televised address.

France has 2,800 troops stationed in Mali but aims to reduce its military presence to 1,000 by February as it hands security responsibilities to the Malian army and a UN force.

The UN mission, launched in July, is still at roughly half its planned level of 12,600 members.

Keita said one of the country's biggest challenges in 2014 would be to build a well-trained republican army equipped to respond to security threats.

"The other challenge is that of total and permanent return of state control over the entire territory," Keita said.

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