Opposition supporters have rallied in Mali following a decision by the Constitutional Court to validate the results of the recent presidential election runoff in the country, which handed a victory to incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Protesters gathered in the capital city of Bamako and the western city of Nioro to protest the election results on Saturday.
While police sources said “a few thousand” people had protested in Bamako, a spokesperson for defeated opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse claimed that the protests had peaked at about “50,000.”
A few hundred protesters were also reported to have rallied in Nioro.
Mali’s presidential election was originally held on July 29, 2018. But no candidate acquired above the 50 percent of the votes required for an outright win. The runoff was held between Keita and Cisse on August 12.
President Keita was declared the winner with more than 67 percent of the votes, against nearly 33 percent for Cisse.
The opposition candidate, however, disputed the results and filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court, which offered its ruling on Monday.
Cisse’s supporters have been protesting in recent days and have promised more rallies.
The European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) both had election monitors in Mali, who also confirmed the credibility of the polling.
Cisse turned up at the Saturday rally in Bamako to make a speech. He reiterated his desire for peace and stability but denounced “election fraud, ballot stuffing, and the falsification of results.”
Mali has been hit by militancy in the past years. The threat of violence reduced voter turnout to about 34 percent, about six percent lower than the average turnout in the country.
This is while thousands of Malian troops had been deployed to secure polling stations.