Voters in Mali’s cities are hoping a presidential election on Sunday will mark the end to a troublesome time.
Islamist militants, some with ties to al Qaeda, swept out of their village camps last year and wrested control of Timbuktu and other cities in northern Mali. Their successes sparked a coup in the faraway capital, Bamako—and eventually triggered a French-led military campaign that succeeded in driving out the insurgents.
Now, with rebels hiding in Saharan villages, and French troops and United Nations peacekeepers patrolling the cities and the roads between them, Mali’s urban class is again wrestling with the issues that led to the crisis. They include widespread corruption, ethnic hatred, and a lack of state authority in desert villages so disconnected that many people are unaware that an election is under way.
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