Mali opposition urges huge election turnout despite coronavirus Mar 29, 2020 0 301 12345 AFPBamakoMali’s main opposition party called for “massive participation” in Sunday’s parliamentary election, despite its leader being kidnapped and the rising coronavirus threat in the war-torn West African country.However several other opposition parties called for the vote to be postponed due to COVID-19 crisis, which has seen 18 people infected since the country’s first case was diagnosed on Wednesday, according to official figures.Though sub-Saharan Mali has had relatively few cases so far compared to other continents, the impoverished nation of some 19 million people -- where large swathes of territory lie outside state control -- is just the kind of state experts fear is particularly vulnerable.In an unprecedented and shocking twist just days before the vote, veteran opposition leader Soumaila Cisse of the Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) was kidnapped while campaigning in the conflict-ravaged centre of the country. His bodyguard was killed during the abduction, which the URD said was carried out by suspected jihadists on motorbikes.There was still no news on Saturday about the fate of the 70-year-old Cisse, who has come second in three presidential elections. But President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has promised the election will go ahead on Sunday despite the coronavirus and security concerns.On Saturday Cisse’s URD party urged its supporters to turn out in even greater numbers in response to their leader’s ordeal.“In these difficult times our country is going through, more than ever the party’s activists are resolutely urged to redouble their efforts for a massive participation in the March 29, 2020 elections,” the URD said in a statement.But other opposition parties -- the National Congress of Democratic Initiative (CNID), Patriotic Movement for Renewal (MRP) and the CMAS movement of influential imam Mahmoud Dicko -- called for the vote to be postponed due to the coronavirus emergency. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES China’s virus epicentre Wuhan eases travel curbs after lockdown Mar 29, 2020 0 374 UN panel urges halt to Syria fighting as virus strikes Mar 29, 2020 0 1226 Taliban says no to Afghan negotiators Mar 29, 2020 0 255 Virus infections climb in Saudi Arabia despite stringent measures Saudi Arabia on Saturday confirmed 99 new cases of the coronavirus, raising its total to 1,203, the highest number in an Arab country. Of these, 41 were recorded in Riyadh, a Health Ministry spokesman said. A lockdown is .. Gaza calls off Land Day border protest due to coronavirus fears DPA Gaza/Tel Aviv Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have cancelled the annual Land Day protest at the Israeli border over fears the gathering could lead to a spike in coronavirus infections. Instead, would-be .. Iran coronavirus death toll tops 2,500: ministry Tehran Iran announced on Saturday that 139 more people had died from the novel coronavirus, raising the official death toll to 2,517 in one of the world’s worst-affected countries. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush .. Jordan registers its first death from coronavirus Amman Jordan on Saturday registered its first death due to the Covid-19. The director of Prince Hamzah Hospital, Abdulrazaq Khashman, announced the death of an 83-year-old woman. “The octogenarian woman, has .. Egypt to jail & fine COVID-19 ‘false news’ mongers DPA Cairo People in Egypt who spread “false news and rumours” on social media about the novel coronavirus could face imprisonment and a hefty fine, the prosecutor general’s office said on Saturday. A statement said those .. Guinea opposition rejects constitutional referendum result The Guinean opposition on Saturday rejected the result of a constitutional referendum , which they fear will be used by President Alpha Conde to extend his grip on power. The proposal to change the constitution was hugely ..