Mali pledged to European leaders during a May donors conference it would hold its first round of presidential elections Sunday. Female candidates are for the first time competing in an election along with more than two dozen others.
Mali's political system was upended in an early 2012 coup. National security collapsed when al-Qaida and foreign rebels seized territory in the wake of the coup and French forces intervened in January to help its former colony.
The U.S. Embassy said it plans to send 58 observers to polling stations Sunday to survey the election.
"Democratic elections are the critical first step in Mali's return to constitutional order and establishing a government with the necessary legitimacy to pursue longer-term priorities," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a Thursday press conference.
The U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a travel advisory for U.S. citizens in the country ahead of the election. It said political and national security was fluid.
"While the U.S. Embassy has no advance indication of expected civil unrest on either day, it has advised its staff to remain at home on July 28 due to the possibility of demonstrations and/or road closures," the warning read.
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