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President's Coalition Wins Large Majority in Mali Legislative Elections

Preliminary results from the second round of legislative elections in Mali appear to give an overwhelming victory to the coalition backing President Amadou Toumani Touré. Winning candidates say they hope to maintain the broad consensus that has characterized Mr. Touré's previous term, beginning in 2002. Naomi Schwarz has more from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

The Alliance for Democracy and Progress, a coalition of 40 political parties that back President Touré, has increased its majority in the National Assembly, according to provisional results released Tuesday.

The results, which must still be validated by the constitutional court, show 128 of 147 seats going to Mr. Touré's coalition. It previously held 97 seats.

But, even in a country known for low turnout, voter participation was noticeably light in Sunday's elections. In the capital, Bamako, only 12 percent of registered voters went to the polls. In the countryside, the rate was slightly higher, at 33 percent.

Journalist Amadou Maiga says torrential downpours the day of the election are to blame.

But some analysts have questioned the legitimacy of elections in which so few took part, and say the low turnout is a sign many Malians believe the result was a foregone conclusion.

Sunday's second round of elections were necessary because few candidates won the necessary majority in the first round, held at the beginning of the month.

Mountaga Tall is the president of one of the political parties in the ruling coalition and the First Vice President of the National Assembly. He was just re-elected.

He says Mr. Touré has always shown an open mind and a willingness to seek consensus, as evidenced by the broad coalition backing him.

He adds that now there is a new mandate for the president and his coalition in the legislature, and there is no need to break with the way things have been done over the past five years.

Mr. Touré is well known for his leading role in the military junta that overthrew Mali's authoritarian regime 15 years ago.

The following year, he turned power over to an elected president and did not take power again until he was elected in 2002. He won re-election earlier this year in the first round.

Opposition politicians have said the consensus style of governing stifles debate. Last month, five journalists were jailed on charges of insulting the president in a satirical essay that recounted the sexual escapades of a fictional president. They have since been released.