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Some Mali Opposition Parties Question Provisional Results of Presidential Election


Mali's incumbent president appears headed for victory after last Sunday's election, but some opposition candidates are angry about how the poll was conducted. For VOA, Kari Barber reports from Mali's capital, Bamako, one opposition party says police prevented its supporters from protesting.

Supporters of opposition candidate and National Assembly President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita gathered at the Rally for Mali party headquarters after they say they were dispersed from a protest march and beaten by police in the capital. According to preliminary results released by the Interior Ministry, Keita got about 18 percent of the vote, the most of any of the seven opposition candidates who ran against President Amadou Toumani Toure.

Party youth movement member Leo Tall took part in the march to protest what he calls election fraud and irregularities in the vote counting from Sunday's poll.

"That is why we are here. We did not have any weapons, nothing. We were just saying we are not OK with this decision," Tall says.

A police spokesman denied that police impeded the rally or hurt anyone.

International and national monitors have widely stated the election was handled in a free and democratic way.

But some opposition candidates have decried reports of early results that give President Toure a strong lead throughout the country. They have complained of vote-buying and falsified ballots.

The deputy leader of the Rally for Mali party, Bakary Koniba Traore, says his party's a country where the president has shown his own incapacity to be a real democrat."

President Toure's campaign spokesman, Souleymane Kone, says the opposition party's complaints are typical of a party that is behind in the polls.

Kone says these kinds of protests are basically normal in Africa, and he says they are mostly just a show.

As for complaints that President Toure's overwhelming lead is unrealistic, Kone says this has more to do with Malian society than with politics.

Kone says Malians want to see a winner win big, and that is not something that can be changed.

President Toure's campaign announced early victory Tuesday, saying the president had taken 70-percent of the vote in provisional results. Officials results are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. If re-elected Mr. Toure will serve another five-year term.

Opposition party organizers say several candidates are planning a joint protest. Those party leaders have said they plan to challenge the legitimacy of the election in Mali's constitutional court.

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