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Early returns coming in for Malian presidential election.

By August 1, 2013

Mali (MNN) – Mali’s official presidential vote count could be released a couple days early with no further need for a runoff.

According to government election officials, Former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is comfortably in the lead. He was one of 27 candidates on the ballot. The former finance minister was in second place.

However, tensions have been rising as the formal results near. Despite a smooth polling process, Keita’s rivals are rejecting early results, calling for an international commission to be established to tally the vote, and launch a second round.

Their call echoes recent calls by the International Crisis Group to delay the election so that it could be better organized. However, Malian officials hoped that the vote would be credible enough to return the country to peace, democracy and stability.

The election was the first in this vast West African country of 15 million since Mali almost fractured last year. Baptist Global Response Executive Director, Jeff Palmer explains a little more of the troubles that have led to the domino effect of the national trauma. “It’s not just the armed conflict, the political turmoil; this is all on top of the Sahel famine that hit the last couple years. They were just starting to recover from that.”

Even if the country remains peaceful post-electively, Palmer says the troubles facing Mali won’t vanish. “If you look at the capital area where we have worked out of, it’s been fairly stable. That’s where we’ve had folks to be able to go. But, if you look at some of the eastern and northern areas where some of the rebel forces have been active, you’re still looking at 350,000 Internally Displaced People in Mali.”

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

Meeting the needs of those IDPs far exceeds the strength of Mali’s coffers. The election and stabilization of the country is a prerequisite to the resumption of donor aid. The U.S. State Department has indicated $180 million of aid and military assistance would be released to Mali if the election is a success.

The help could come too little, too late for the nearly 1.4 million people in need of food assistance. The conflict of the last seven months drained off what help could get in. It hit BGR’s partners too, says Palmer. “We have struggled in recent months now, or actually, the last couple of weeks. Some of our key contacts have had to come out of the area. It’s a hard living situation, plus it’s a lot of spiritual warfare and healthcare issues.”

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

Local churches have housed and fed many people, and BGR partners are helping by providing basic essentials and food. “The kindness and compassion of Christ goes from person to person. the message of the hope of charts goes from person to person, so, having people there, boots on the ground, followers of Christ, in an area with those overwhelming percentages is a way we insure that there is compassion and there is a message of hope.” Palmer is praying for another partner on the ground, and for a specific, though as yet, unknown person. “Mali is one of those places where you don’t want to mobilize a lot of volunteers from the United States, or from other places to go in just because of the dangerous living situations. Pray for just to have wisdom and knowledge and divine context with those who can help us get to the neediest people in that country.”

In the meantime, will you join him? Also, would you pray wisdom for the refugees to know when to return to their homes. Ask God to use this crisis to reveal His love to many people.

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