Voters in Mali are heading to the polls on Sunday to pick their president, in a crucial election many hope will quell years of political unrest and violence, as well as improve economic conditions in the country.
A total of 24 hopefuls are competing in the presidential race, with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and opposition frontrunner Soumaila Cisse seen as the two main candidates.
Opposition presidential candidates and international observers met the country’s prime minister on Saturday for talks over mounting concerns of potential electoral fraud.
The Prime minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga said a perfect election was not possible.
Chief challenger Soumaila Cisse accused the government of cheating, calling on the public to cast their judgement.
Opposition candidates have been crying foul over alleged tampering with the voter’s register.
“Our president is cheating, our government is cheating. People must know that, and draw their own conclusions,” said Cisse after a meeting with the prime minister.
Sunday’s vote is the first since the 2013 vote that completed the democratic transition following a March 2012 coup which led to an Islamist takeover of the north that was eventually crushed by a French military intervention.
The election campaign has revolved around the key issues of security, economy, job creation and poverty reduction.