Malians head for the polls to vote for a president on 29 July as the country grapples with chronic insecurity.
It is largely fuelled by the ascendancy of jihadist groups in Africa’s Sahel region, but the spectre of ethnic clashes and the lingering problem of Tuareg militias have also contributed to the atmosphere of insecurity.
An al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group has already issued a video warning people against voting.
The group, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), is now the main jihadist group in the country and it has been terrorising villagers in the expansive north – including the cities of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. Islamic State (IS) militants are also on the prowl.
The jihadists exploit the weak borders of the Sahel and are involved in kidnapping and human trafficking, as well as weapons and drugs smuggling, which finance jihadist expansion.
Their activity hampered preparations for the poll and at least one village in Gao reported an attack that coincided with the distribution of voter cards. Twelve people were killed in the attack.
His critics argue that he has been unable to restore security despite the presence of multinational forces in the country.
There are 4,000 French troops who’ve been battling jihadists in the north and centre of Mali since August 2014. Mali also hosts the headquarters of a joint force, known as the G5, comprising 5,000 soldiers from Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.