Mali lifts state of emergency in advance of presidential election

BAMAKO, Mali, July 6 (UPI) -- Malian officials say they have lifted a five-month-long state of emergency in advance of this month's presidential election.

The announcement came after Tuareg rebels agreed to allow government troops into the town of Kidal to improve security ahead of the voting, the BBC reported Saturday.


Tuareg rebels captured the town in February after French and Malian troops drove out Islamist insurgents who had entered the country's northern region on the coattails of the Tuareg uprising last year.

The Tuareg occupation of Kidal had been a major roadblock in organizing the nationwide vote, scheduled for July 28.

The election will be the first since a 2012 military coup but its validity is in question, Ahram Online reported.

An estimated 500,000 people are displaced as a result of the conflict and critics have questioned whether government and election officials are fully prepared.

Twenty-six candidates are running in the election, for which the European Union has begun deploying observers.

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