PARIS (AFP) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for the results of Mali's upcoming election to be respected even if the vote is "imperfect", amid scepticism about the country's ability to stage the poll.
"The results, even if the election is imperfect, must be respected by all parties," Ban told reporters in Paris, a day after attending France's national day celebrations.
The first-round presidential election, due to be held on July 28, is seen as crucial to reuniting deeply divided Mali after an 18-month political crisis that saw French forces intervene in January to push out Islamist rebels who had seized the north.
After meeting with Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore and French leader Francois Hollande, Ban said he hoped the vote would be held "in a credible and peaceful manner, in a calm atmosphere."
Much of the concern over the vote is focused on the restive northern town of Kidal, and there are also doubts about the authorities' ability to properly organise the vote in a country where 500,000 people have been displaced.
But Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly told AFP on Saturday that a delay would only prolong the political crisis.
"The elections will be credible and transparent, given our conditions -- in other words in a country that has experienced an occupation and where the population is traumatised," he said.