Mali: Parliamentary elections maintained despite coronavirus

Despite the coronavirus risk, the long-delayed parliamentary elections – whose first round is planned for next Sunday March 29 – in Mali will go ahead.

The announcement was made by Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in a televised address, Wednesday.

He reassured that a “scrupulous respect” of health measures will be observed.
“The government will do everything in its power to ensure that this is so,” he said.

Holding parliamentary elections was a key recommendation of the crisis talks held in December to explore non-military solutions to the surge of violence in Mali.

The polls were in initially scheduled for late 2018 following Keita’s re-election. But they were postponed several times, with the authorities citing a strike by judges or worsening security.

Mali’s latest parliamentary elections were held in 2013. Keita’s Rally for Mali party won the elections in a ballot.

In his televised address, President Keita announced a number of measures to curb the spread of virus in the country, which has so far recorded two cases, two nationals who had recently returned from France.

The country will enforce a curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. as of this Thursday, and will close land borders.

Freight will still be allowed into the West African state, and markets will remain open, the President said.

Experts fear the country is particularly exposed to an outbreak because of its jihadist conflict, which first broke out in the north in 2012 and has since engulfed the center.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died in the conflict, and swathes of Mali’s territory remain outside state control.

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