Ambroise Dakouo, an analyst from the Alliance to Rebuild African Governance, said that the low turnout during elections reflected disillusionment with the political establishment, consisting of a rotation of “the same elites” who are unaccountable to their constituents, the majority of whom are poor and illiterate.
“Corruption is a very strong force,” Mr. Dakouo said. “People will be mobilized and elect someone, and right away they are disappointed.”
“If you ask why people do not vote, they will say, ‘They are all the same,’” he added.
During his campaign, Mr. Keïta, 73, trumpeted what he said were the successes of his first term, including creating jobs and expanding access to drinking water, electricity and education. His supporters maintained that he needed a second five-year term to finish what he had started.
“Mali is still not stable. People are poor, there is unemployment, people finish their studies and they are jobless,” said Moussa Touré, a 26-year-old law student, after he voted on Sunday. “There are still things which are not settled, and maybe we need 10 years to have change in Mali and give time to a leader or we cannot move forward.”
Critics of Mr. Keïta have criticized him for what they say has been lavish spending on presidential jets and travel, rampant corruption, the appointment of family members to key government positions, widespread military abuses and a failure to maintain security in the face of Islamist extremism and ethnic conflict.
Mr. Keïta has been in office since his election in 2013, just after a period during which Mali faced an Islamist insurgency, a rebellion by the Tuareg ethnic group, and a military coup. During his tenure, violence and insecurity have spread closer to the capital, Bamako, with conflict between ethnic groups and local militias emerging in the central region.