Malians are voting today in a second round presidential election to determine if incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will remain in office in this sprawling West African nation threatened by rising extremist violence.
The polls opened to light rain and light turnout as many worried that the vote could be marred by violence.
In the July 29 first round presidential vote, extremists killed three election workers and destroyed some voting materials.
Nearly 43 percent of voters made it to the polls last month and at least 671 polling stations were closed.
Despite the relatively low turnout officials called the vote well-conducted.
Extremists were staging more bold attacks that have spread to central Mali, where both Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked militants are present.
Deadly communal clashes between ethnic groups and accusations of heavy-handed counter terror operations have caused even deeper tensions and mistrust of the state.
Still, a second term for Keita, 73, seems likely.
He received 41.7 percent of the vote in the first round from a field of 24 candidates and has gained endorsements from some other candidates.
Dressed in his traditional white boubou, Keita voted near his home in Bamako on Sunday.
"I hope that everyone will be very vigilant," he said, adding that any suspected attempts at fraud should be reported to police.
"Ultimately this election must end as it should, with the celebration of democracy... This is what we hope for in our hearts," he said.
Cisse, 68, who placed second in the first round with nearly 18 percent of the vote, blamed Keita for the violence and corruption. The opposition party also alleged there was voting fraud in July.
"This time, I have a good feeling," Cisse said.
However the constitutional court on Wednesday said it has registered more than 10 requests from the opposition over various anomalies in the first round, but most were declared inadmissible.
On Saturday, the opposition organized a march "to warn against the fraud."
Issa Namory Keita, a 57-year-old retiree, said he would vote for the incumbent, Keita.
"Unlike his challenger, my candidate knows the country well and it is he who has the solution to the problems," he said.
Another voter who was unrelated but with the same family name, Fanta Keita, said she will also vote for the current president.
"He is a man who loves his country, he is a worker who has opened several development sites and I hope he continues his work," she said.
Voter turnout trickled throughout the day and was expected to remain low. Some people have fled areas of violence until the vote gets over.
In central Mali, attacks have become more frequent amid communal clashes as neighbors suspect one another of being recruited by extremist groups.
Meanwhile, Malian soldiers in recent months have been accused of abuses, including extrajudicial killings, during counter terror operations.
On Wednesday, armed men attacked the Boni prefecture, according to a Malian security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not permitted to speak to the press. The armed men killed the prefect's secretary.
Malian authorities have tried to reassure the public and encourage them to go to the polls for the second round.
Residents in central Mali, however, said they don't see the increased security.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)