Mali presidential contenders have expressed confidence of winning the election as campaigning for Sunday ' s presidential election runoff ends.
Campaigning for the second round of the election in Mali officially ended on Friday. Former Malian Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and ex-Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse, who won nearly 40 percent and 19.4 percent of the vote in the first round respectively, will face off in the second round on August 11, following the failure of the rivals to secure a majority in the first round. Keita, who finished the first round with more than 20 percentage points ahead of his rival, has expressed confidence in his victory in the runoff, saying, “Given the results from the first round, there is a good chance that they would be confirmed in the second." "My first priority would be the reconciliation of the country... after the trauma that it has suffered, a new start is needed," he added. On the other hand, Cisse has also expressed optimism about his presidential bid in the second round, saying, “I am confident, because it is not about adding to the votes from the first round, there will be new votes, it is a new election.” "Everything restarts from zero." The first round was held under heavy security measures on July 28. However, no major violence was reported as polling stations closed 10 hours later. Voters could choose from 27 candidates, following a recent French-led war and months of political tensions in the West African country. France launched the war on Mali on January 11, under the pretext of halting the advance of rebel fighters in the country. After the voting ended, the European Union’s top observer said around 50 percent of those eligible to vote had participated in the election. The official turnout was recorded at 51.5 percent.