Election Campaigns Begin in Mali

Presidential election scheduled for July 28


Campaigning for Mali's highly anticipated July 28 presidential election officially kicked off on Sunday, with the deeply divided West African nation struggling to return to constitutional order after an 18-month political crisis.

The ballot will be the first since a coup in March 2012 that ousted the democratically elected president, Amadou Toumani Touré, just months before he was to step down at the end of his final term in office.

The transitional government lifted a nearly six-month state of emergency on Saturday, marking what officials hope will be a gradual return to normality ahead of the nationwide vote.

But critics of the process argue that it is being rushed and could prove counter-productive by threatening to plunge Mali further into chaos.