Malians vote Sunday in a long-delayed parliamentary election, despite a raging terrorist conflict, the recent kidnap of a leading opposition politician and the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts see the vote as a key step towards leading the West African state out of its spiral of violence and closer to a political solution to stop the bloodshed.
The parliamentary election has been delayed several times since 2018, mostly over security concerns.
But Mali’s government says the poll will go ahead on Sunday, even as the novel coronavirus has added to the country’s chronic security problems.
Authorities this week recorded Mali’s first coronavirus cases, and afterwards announced measures including a night-time curfew to stop its spread.
In a first for Mali, unidentified gunmen kidnapped leading opposition figure Soumaila Cisse on Wednesday in the volatile centre of the country, killing his bodyguard in the process.
In a televised address made before Cisse was reported missing, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said the election would go ahead “in scrupulous respect of protective measures”, referring to the health crisis.