top of page

Mali, Elections in spite of Covid-19: should we fear a Guinean-style scenario?

Maceo Ouitona,

In Mali, voters are invited to the polls this Sunday, April 19, 2020. A Guinean-style scenario is not to be ruled out.

In Mali, voters are invited to the polls this Sunday, April 19, 2020 for the second round of legislative elections; a ballot organized despite the security situation in the country and the Coronavirus epidemic that has already killed 13 people. A Guinean-style scenario is not to be ruled out.

This Sunday, April 19, 2020 in Mali, voters are called to vote for the second round of legislative elections. Of the 147 deputies to be elected, 22 had been officially elected in the first round. The second round this Sunday will choose the remaining 125. But this election could have a very high abstention rate for two main reasons: the global health crisis of the Coronavirus and the terrorist acts that are taking place in the Sahel.

In the country, more than 216 people have already tested positive for Coronavirus and 13 have died from the disease. On Saturday, 18 April, on the eve of polling day, more than 20 new cases were reported. Apart from the fear of Covid-19, the population is afraid of terrorists, who threaten to attack voters and destroy polling stations.

Even if the state is aware of the risk it runs in maintaining the elections, it should be noted that the stakes are high. Most of the political parties in both the movement and the opposition support the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in this electoral process, because the challenge is great: to renew the members of the National Assembly elected in 2013, who should normally be changed from 2018, and to finally be able to implement the peace agreement signed in 2015.

The said agreement between the State and the armed pro-independence groups calls for a deeper decentralization of power through a constitutional reform that should be voted on in the National Assembly. However, the mandate of the current Parliament has expired and its legitimacy has been challenged. According to Mali's leaders, the implementation of this agreement is also a key turning point in the fight against insecurity, poverty and war.

The big problem is that this vote is being held at a time when coronavirus disease has taken hold in Mali. This scenario is somewhat reminiscent of what happened in Guinea, with the coupled elections followed by an explosion of Covid-19 cases. Worse, in less than 24 hours, Guinea lost two eminent personalities to the Coronavirus: the president of the CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission), himself who had supervised these elections, and the Secretary General of the Government. What will happen to Mali? To be continued.

Originally published in French.

bottom of page