12 Jul 2013 11:19

BAMAKO, July 4 (BERNAMA-NNN-SAPA) -- Mali's constitutional court has approved 28 candidates, including four former prime ministers and one woman, for presidential elections set for 28 July. But shortly before the ruling late on Tuesday, the head of the West African nation's electoral commission, Mamadou Diamoutani, said he doubted the polls would be free, fair and inclusive. Numerous flaws in the electoral process could lead to the results being contested, he said. "Currently the big challenge is the distribution of 6, 867, 443 voters' cards. We have four weeks to do it. That job alone is tremendously difficult, given that 800, 000 people are displaced or have become refugees," Diamoutani explained. "An estimated 308, 000 people aged 18 and 19 have been disenfranchised because voter registration was done in 2010, and they had not reached legal voting age then," he added. Campaigning will officially start on Sunday, the day after the current state of emergency is due to be lifted. An interim government has been ruling Mali since a military coup toppled president Amadou Toumani Toure in March 2012.-- BERNAMA-NNN-SAPA