Monday, August 12, 2013

Profiles of Mali's 2013 presidential candidates

Despite security concerns and warnings that the country is not ready for elections, Mali goes to the polls on July 28 in the first presidential vote since last year's coup. FRANCE 24 profiles some of the candidates in the 2013 race. The official 2013 presidential campaign kicked off shortly after the July 6 lifting of a state of emergency, which was imposed when the French offensive began in January. Mali’s constitutional court has approved 28 candidates, including four former prime ministers and a female candidate. Here are some of the leading contenders for Mali’s presidential race: THE VETERANS Ibrahim Boubacar Keita: The 68-year-old veteran politician, known as “IBK”, was Mali’s prime minister from 1994 to 2000. Following his resignation from office, IBK launched the Rally for Mali (RPM) party in 2001. He has made two previous, unsuccessful bids for the presidency – in 2002 and 2007. IBK lost both elections to former Malian president Amadou Toumani Touré (aka “ATT”), who was ousted in the 2012 coup. Born in Koutiala in southern Mali, IBK was educated in Mali and France, and has held top positions at various international NGOs in addition to diplomatic postings and political posts. IBK was the frontrunner in the scrapped 2012 election and was supported by a number of smaller political parties. Soumaila Cissé: Born in Timbuktu in northern Mali, Cissé, 63, was the runner-up in the 2002 presidential poll, losing the second round to ousted president Amadou Toumani Touré. A year after the 2002 poll, he founded the Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) party. Educated in Mali and France, Cissé is a software engineer by training and has worked in several French companies. A former finance minister, Cissé fled his Bamako home following the March 2012 coup after he was attacked by Malian soldiers loyal to coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo. On the campaign trail, Cissé has called for the junta to stay away from political power. Modibo Sidibé: At 60, Sidibé has variously served as Mali’s prime minister, foreign minister and presidential chief of staff. Born in the capital of Bamako, Sidibé was a police chief before launching his political career. Considered an ATT (Amadou Toumani Touré) loyalist, Sidibé has been arrested several times since the March 2012 coup. In a recent interview with FRANCE 24, Sidibé insisted he did not have a complicated relationship with the Malian army or the Sanogo-led junta, which ousted ATT. "I do not confuse the junta and the Malian army," he maintained. Tiébilé Dramé: Born in the southwestern Malian town of Nioro du Sahel, Dramé was foreign minister in the transitional government from 1991 to 1992 following the 1991 coup. The 58-year-old politician stood for presidential elections in 2002 and 2007, losing both elections to Amadou

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