Mali's parliamentary elections will enter a second round on 15 December as no party has secured an absolute majority in the first round, according to provisional results published on Wednesday. Turnout in the 24 November polls reached 38.4%, "far short of our expectations", said Minister of Territorial Administration Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, as he announced the results.
Some 6.5 million Malians were eligible to vote for a new national assembly, with more than 1 000 candidates running for the 147 seats. The polls marked Mali's first steps to recovery after it was plunged into chaos by a military coup in March last year that triggered the fall of the country's north into the hands of armed Islamist groups allied with al-Qaeda. They finalised a process begun with the election of its first post-conflict leader in August.
The goal of the new Malian president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, is to give his RPM party and its allies a comfortable majority in the new assembly. Foreign and national monitors welcomed the smooth running of the election, which was generally peaceful apart from a few violent incidents in the north by Tuareg separatists. The observers nonetheless regretted the low turnout. More than 10 months after an armed intervention launched by France in January to hunt them down, the Islamist groups continue to stage attacks in the north of Mali.