May 28, 2018 / 11:16 PM / 25 days ago

Mali president confirms he will run for re-election

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced on state TV on Monday that he would run for re-election in a poll scheduled for the end of July.

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is seen on arrival for the ECOWAS meeting in Abuja, Nigeria December 16, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Keita, 73, had been widely expected to run for a second term, but had not confirmed his intention. He faces growing political opposition in the capital Bamako, especially among a disaffected youth, and a raging Islamist insurgency and tit-for-tat ethnic killing in the north.

“I present myself as a candidate in the presidential election of July 29,” Keita said on state TV. “I ask you to trust in me again.”

A dozen other candidates have announced their candidacy, the strongest of which is seen as opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, a former finance minister.

Rising violence across Mali has cast doubt over the feasibility of elections in some parts, especially the north, where Islamist groups have exploited chaos and lawlessness to use the desert region as a springboard for attacks.

Dozens of ethnic Tuareg and Fulani civilians have also been killed in intercommunal violence in the north, stoked by the Islamists, while insurgents have killed scores of U.N. peacekeepers and government soldiers.

Growth has hovered around 5 percent, owing to strong cotton and gold output, but population growth at over 3 percent has eaten into those gains. Corruption remains endemic, and Mali ranks 175 on the U.N. Human Development Index, only 12 up from the bottom.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Tim Cocks

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