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Malians defy death threats, vote to select president

Malians defied Islamist death threats to vote on Sunday for a president expected to usher in a new dawn of peace and stability as polling stations opened across the conflict-scarred nation. 

Voters have a choice of 27 candidates in the first election since last year’s military coup upended one of the region’s most stable democracies, as Islamist militants hijacked a separatist uprising to seize much of the country. 

The ballot opened under heavy security after one of the main Islamist armed groups in northern Mali said on Saturday it would ‘strike’polling stations. ‘The polling stations and other voting places for what they are calling the elections will be targeted by mujahedeen strikes,’ the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) said. 

It did not specify what form the attacks would take. The group warned Malian Muslims to ‘stay away from the polls’. Although campaign ended on Friday, it played out in the shadow of violence that has raised doubts over Mali’s readiness to deliver a safe and credible election. 
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