July 27 - Mali prepares for its first election since a French-led military intervention in January ousted Islamists from the West African nation. Mana Rabiee reports.
The modest city hall in Mali's capitol, Timbuktu. What residents here hope to do on Sunday is anything but modest. The West African nation is in last minute preparations for its first elections, since a French-led military intervention in January ousted Islamist rebels. And the harsh Sharia law they brought with them. (SOUNDBITE) (French) MARPHALA NDIAYE, TEACHER, SAYING: "I would like that the election in the north to go ahead in an atmosphere of calm, that the war comes to an end and that we regain our dear country. It's truly my only wish, it's all our wishes, all Malians, that's all that we want." But poor planning has hampered Presidential campaigning. Many still don't have voting cards and confusion reigns over electoral lists. All that could put election results into question, sowing seeds for further conflict. (SOUNDBITE) (French) LOCAL OFFICIAL, HAMADOU KALIL DJITTEY, SAYING: "If the voters will complain that they haven't found their polling station or even their electoral cards, it could lead to contesting the elections, and that's not what we want." And yet, many still hope Sunday's election will be a fresh start -- an end to a turbulent period in Mali's recent history.