Malian Refugees Cast Votes in Exile

Farai Diza August 01, 2013

Malian Refugees Cast Votes in ExileHundreds of Malian refugees voted in exile last weekend in the presidential elections in their home country.

Almost 7 million Malians were eligible to vote for the 27 candidates contesting Sunday’s election, the first since conflict erupted in Mali in January last year between government forces and various rebel groups, who were beaten earlier this year following the military intervention of France.

Almost 10 300 of the 173 000 refugee’s in the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania were on the civil registry and eligible to vote. Only about 1 220 voted on election day with humanitarian and practical help from UNHCR and the host countries, but final figures have yet to be released.

Many of those that voted said they saw it as a unique opportunity to bring a brighter future to Mali and pave the way for their eventual return in safety.

But others were frustrated by administrative and bureaucratic obstacles they encountered. These led to many being excluded from casting their votes. To vote, eligible refugees needed to present a biometric ID card with their details. They also needed documentation showing their names and photographs on the electoral lists. Many had one or the other, but not both.

“I registered with the Malian authorities when they came to the camp in June and my name was found on the civil registry but i never received my biometric ID card,” disappointed Rhissa told Reuters at Burkina Faso’s Goudebou camp.

Determined to vote, some refugees travelled directly to Mali to collect their cards.

In Mauritania, only 811 Malian refugees voted on Sunday out of the more than 8 500 who were identified on the electoral data base. In Burkina Faso, out of the 1 014 refugees whose names were confirmed on the civil registry, only 85 voted in the end.

The election results are expected to be announced before the end of this week.

Last Edited by: Updated: June 19, 2018


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