Bamako, Mali : Soumaila Cisse, the losing candidate in Mali’s presidential election, said on Friday that he has lodged an appeal with the country’s constitutional court to overturn the results that he says were fraudulent.
Soumaila Cisse lost in a landslide to incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, picking up just 33 percent of the vote in an election in which only 34 percent of a politics-weary electorate voted.
Although largely peaceful, the election was tainted by militant violence especially in the center and north, where hundreds of polling stations remained closed, and by allegations from Cisse that Keita’s camp had stuffed ballots and toyed with the electoral roll to win votes.
Cisse says that without any fraudulent votes he would have won 51 percent of the vote.
“We have already filed constitutional court appeals,” Cisse told a small crowd of cheering supporters in the capital Bamako. “We are within the deadline and we have until midnight to make further changes.”
The European Union observer mission and other local and international monitors have said that although there were irregularities and disruptions, they saw no evidence of fraud.
EARLIER : Mali President Keita Reelected
Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won re-election with 67 percent of the vote in Sunday’s runoff, the government announced on Thursday. His rival, Soumaila Cisse, got 32.83 percent, local government minister Mohamed Ag Erlaf said.
European Union observers said on Tuesday they saw irregularities but not fraud during Mali’s presidential run-off, despite opposition accusations that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s camp cheated.
Results from Sunday’s second round between Keita and opposition leader Soumaila Cisse had not yet been released on Monday when Cisse called on his supporters on Monday to challenge Keita’s expected victory.
Cisse has not provided concrete evidence for his accusations and Keita has denied any wrongdoing. Cisse also said fraud marred last month’s first round, but the constitutional court upheld the results.
Mali is a major concern for Western powers due to the presence of militant groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
“The vote generally took place calmly, despite security incidents in the centre and north,” EU mission head Cecile Kyenge told reporters in the capital Bamako.
“Our observers did not see fraud but problems of irregularities,” she said, citing threats by armed groups and a lack of communication between election officials.
In all, security issues prevented nearly 500 polling stations – about 2 percent of the total – from opening, according to Malian authorities.
EU observers did not deploy to some regions in the north and centre due to repeated attacks there by jihadist groups and ethnic militia this year that have killed hundreds of civilians, Malian troops and U.N. peacekeepers.
A Malian observer group estimated turnout for the second round at only about 27 percent of 8 million registered voters due to security fears and voter apathy.
Keita won the first round with about 41 percent of the vote despite his government’s failure to slow the surging violence.
Keita’s now faces the task of lifting Mali out of a spiral of violence in the centre and north where attacks worsened in the months leading up to the vote despite the presence of UN and French troops