An LDS convert and BYU graduate is a candidate for the presidency of Mali, a western African nation of more than 14 million people.

Niankoro Yeah Samake is a native of Mali who has a master’s degree in public policy from Brigham Young University (BYU).  Samake is the Executive Director of the Mali Rising Foundation, a Utah-based non-profit that works to foster public education in Mali.

In 2009, Samake was elected mayor of Ouelessebougou, a town of 34,000 in southern Mali.  Ouelessebougou has since become a pilot municipality in Mali, demonstrating a system of governance based upon transparency, public participation and strict financial accountability.

Samake’s campaign stresses the need for principle-based leadership, efficient use of scarce national resources, and stamping out corruption. Campaign planks include food sufficiency, clean water, public education, improvements in health, and economic development.

Samake’s English-language campaign web site gives background information about the candidate, about Mali, and about issues relevant to the campaign.  Multimedia elements include a personal endorsement from Utah governor Gary Herbert.

Mali’s presidential election will be held in 2012.