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Mali Presidential Results Delayed - 2002-05-01


Election officials in Mali have again begun releasing results from Sunday's presidential elections, following a one-day interruption. The tabulation of votes was halted early Tuesday due to what the government said was a technical problem. The delay has caused some Malians to grow impatient with the slow pace of the vote-counting.

Officials with Mali's Ministry of Territorial Administration early Wednesday began releasing results again. With just under one-quarter of all votes counted, officials said former transition leader Amadou Toumani Toure had a three percentage point lead over former cabinet minister Soumaila Cisse. The preliminary results showed former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in third place.

Supporters of each of the front-runners have all claimed their candidate is ahead. In the absence of official results for a full day Tuesday, there has been some confusion over who has been leading.

The tabulation of votes was stopped early Tuesday. The government said this was because the only technician who had access to the computer that was compiling results at a central location was involved in a serious car accident and hospitalized.

Candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita issued a statement complaining that the slowness of the release of results would open the door to fraud. Some Malians have grown impatient at what they say is the slow pace of the returns. Originally, final results had been expected by Tuesday. According to Mali's electoral laws, they are due no later than Friday.

Partial results released Wednesday show none of the three top contenders is garnering a 51 percent majority needed to win the poll. Observers say the race will likely go into a second round on May 12.

The winner will replace outgoing President Alpha Oumar Konare, who is leaving office after serving the maximum two allowed five-year terms. Mr. Konare has won praise from the international community for not attempting to change the country's electoral laws in order to remain in power.

Mali has often been referred to by the United States and other Western nations as a model for democracy in Africa. Sunday's elections were carried out in atmosphere of calm, with no serious problems reported.

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