On Sunday Malians went to the polls for a presidential election amid multiple incidences of violence. Voters expressed concern about being targets after al-Qaida's made threats.
Malians put on a brave face to vote despite the looming danger associated with exercising their franchise. There were reports of mortars being fired near polling stations and ballot boxes being burned at others.
"The Secretary-General urges all political actors in Mali to commit to making this poll a peaceful, free and transparent process, and to resolve any possible dispute through the appropriate institutions in accordance with the law," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
Iyad Ag Ghaley, leader of al-Qaida's Mali branch, sent a message on Telegram and Twitter saying the organization opposes the elections. There was some 30,000 security personnel dispatched across Mali for voter reassurance.
According to the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, voting was disrupted but there are no reported casualties.
"The European observer mission calls for the Malian authorities to publish the list of polling stations where voting did not take place," Cecile Kyenge, the head of the European observer mission, remarked.
Over 8 million voters are registered for this election cycle, 7,000 living in Mbera, the largest Malian refugee center in southeastern Mauritania. A second round is scheduled for Aug. 12 if no candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round.
"Despite the difficulties of insecurity and transport, it was a duty for me to come and vote here with the people who trust me," opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse said. "Malians must vote, it is very important. Each Malian must also be vigilant against attempts of electoral fraud. There must be transparency."
Some polling stations remained closed in jihadi-controlled Yamassadiou and Onde, reports stated. Armed men allegedly kidnapped the head of a polling station in Gandamia village.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK), who is seeking a second term in office, will be challenged by 23 candidates in the first round of the elections. Cisse is Keita's main rival.
"The current president IBK considers Mopti region his enemy, and he left it ... that's why all the insecurity of the north has come to settle here," Oumar Toure, a leader of a local civic association in Mopti, pointed out. "In Mopti, it's the law of the strongest."