Mali: Candidate Soumaila Cisse goes to court alleging vote fraud

In advance of runoff, opposition leader files complaints of ballot box stuffing and other violations, says spokesman.

Soumaila Cisse, leader of opposition party URD speaks during a news conference in Bamako
Cisse finished second behind Keita in the first round of elections last month [Luc Gnago/Reuters]

Opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse is mounting a legal challenge in Mali’s constitutional court alleging “ballot box-stuffing” after he came in a distant second to incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the first round of the country’s presidential election.

Keita won 41.42 percent of votes in the July 29 presidential poll, easily ahead of Cisse with 17.8 percent.

They will face off in a second-round runoff on Sunday, August 12.

“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 the AFP news agency on Sunday. 

“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 29 vote, 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 runoff vote – which Keita is heavily favoured to win.

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 runoff 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 unrest and armed group attacks 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 is one of the world’s poorest countries.

Source: AFP