(Bloomberg) -- Mali’s main opposition alliance said it will continue with protests to demand peaceful and transparent elections next month after police fired teargas to disperse a rally this weekend in the capital, Bamako.
At least 16 people including protesters and security staff were hurt on Saturday as opposition supporters rallied at the office of the Alliance for Democracy and Progress coalition. They were demanding better coverage of their campaigning on state television, defying a ban on the protest due to a state of emergency that’s been in place since 2015. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is seeking re-election on July 29 after winning a run-off vote in 2013 in the West African nation.
“We are more determined than ever to rally for our right to express ourselves,” Soumaila Cisse, candidate for the Union for the Republic and Democracy party, which is a member of the ADP-Maliba coalition, said by phone on Sunday. The coalition and other parties plan to protest again on Friday, said Cisse, a former finance minister who was defeated by Keita five years go.
Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, whose vehicle passed the protests on Saturday, called for peaceful elections.
“I appeal to the sense of responsibility and for everyone to get together for successful 2018 elections, a guarantee of stability for our country,” Maiga’s office said in a statement.
Once a stable democracy, Mali is now on the front-line of an intensifying push by al-Qaeda- and Islamic State-affiliated militants and the deployment of thousands of Western and United Nations troops in the Sahel region, a wide arid area south of the Sahara desert that’s a key gateway for the trafficking of migrants and drugs to Europe.
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