Mali officials are expected to release Friday the results of a presidential election that intends to provide a fresh start for the war-torn country.
The results of the Sunday vote have been delayed twice this week. Interior ministry officials say more time is needed to verify vote counts. By law, the government has until Friday to announce the results.
Earlier this week, a partial count showed ex-Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita with a comfortable lead over 27 candidates. His rival Soumaila Cisse was a distant second.
Territorial administration minister Colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly said if the vote margin remained the same, there would be no need for a runoff vote.
However, Cisse's Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) party said a first-round victory, by its count, was not possible. A spokesman for Mr. Cisse said the party was sure that he won in many of Mali's interior regions.
The party also said there were voting irregularities, including "ballot stuffing."
After final provisional results are announced, the candidates will have one week to contest results before Mali's constitutional court.
The vote Sunday was seen as a first step toward Mali's recovery after 18 months of unrest that included a military coup and Islamists taking over the country's north.
Sunday's election was peaceful and had a relatively high voter turnout, with the government putting the total at more than 50 percent.