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Mali Elections Draw Little Participation - 2002-07-15

Results from Sunday's first round of parliamentary elections in the West African nation of Mali began to emerge Monday. The poll Sunday drew little voter participation.

Election officials say only about 20 percent of eligible voters turned out to cast ballots in Mali's capital, Bamako. Observers attribute the absence of voters largely to concerns about possible fraud.

Those concerns were fueled in part by news reports that said tens of thousands of ballot cards were missing before the polls opened Sunday.

The low turnout was in sharp contrast to the presidential elections in May, when a majority of voters cast ballots and elected former interim leader Amadou Toumani Toure. He replaced Alpha Oumar Konare, who left office after serving the maximum two five-year terms.

Mr. Konare won international praise for not attempting to change the constitution in order to remain in office. It was Mali's first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another.

A second round of elections to pick 147 members of Mali's National Assembly is scheduled for July 28.