- For the first time in history, Mali has produced its first woman Presidential candidate to contest in what is proved to the only male affair on Sunday.
Sidibé Aminata Diallo, the flag bearer of Rassemblement pour l'éducation ŕ l'environnement et au développement durable (the Movement for Environmental Education and Sustainable Development is the courageous woman who has record her name in history.
Eight candidates, including the incumbent, President Amadou Toumani Toure, have been confirmed to contest in the 29 April polls.
Except Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and Sidibé Aminata Diallo, the rest stood against Mr Toure in 2002.
Mr Toure, 58, affectionately called A.T.T., is tipped to win the polls. The two leading candidates will battle it out in a second round on 13 May if any of the candidates polls more than 50 percent of the first round polls.
President Toure first came to power in the early 1990s when he overthrew the former Malian dictator, Musa Traore. After six months in office, he relinquished power. Mr Toure bounced back to power in 2002 after he had won the elections.
He appeals to Malian voters to give him another mandate to accomplish his mission to boom the economy as well as better their lives.
His lonely woman candidate is a lecturer and specialist researcher in land management who lectures at the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management at the University of Bamako.
Sidibé Aminata Diallo’s political agenda is unique because it focuses on environmental degradation, which is among Mali's main challenging issues. She says this issue does not seem to bother the authorities, as politicians raise it half-hazardly during electoral debates.
Mrs Diallo believes Mali, a landlocked country, needs to address the problems of its ecosystem, especially in its north and south regions where desertification and deforestation are eminent.
She says if elected into office, her key priority has to do with arresting the problems of deforestation, develop renewable energy source friendly policies, improve health conditions as well as take care of urban pollution.
The confident-looking woman is gradually galvanising support from some women's associations, including Coordination des associations et ont féminines du Mali that decides to throw its weight behind her when she promised to fight for the rights of women.
However, most Malian women have openly declared their support for the incumbent candidate simply because apart from reducing cost of housing, he also introduced free Caesarean deliveries for women. This obviously erodes support for the woman candidate.
Mrs Diallo also battles with tradition in a society where women are seen as back benchers.
If she succeeds in becoming the second woman President in Africa after Ms John-Sirleaf of Liberia Malian gender activists will engage in a life-long celebration. It will be interpreted as a defeat against the barbaric culture practices and notion that a woman must not lead
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