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July 30, 2013

Former Mali PM Keita Takes Lead in Presidential Vote

by VOA News

Partial results from Mali's presidential election show that front-runner and former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is leading and may win an outright victory.

Mali's minister of territorial administration, Colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, announced Tuesday that Keita is comfortably ahead with one-third of the votes counted.

Coulibaly did not reveal the extent of the margin but says if it is maintained, there will be no need for a runoff vote.

"There is one candidate, notably candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who has a a wide margin compared with the other candidates.  The gaps are important.  If these gaps are confirmed, there will not be a second round for the July 28 presidential elections.  Nevertheless, everything is in place so that if there is a second round, we will be ready for the August 11 appointment," said Coulibaly.

He says they hope to finish the vote counting in the coming hours and release full provisional results by Wednesday.

Keita and another former prime minister, Modibo Sidibe, were considered the front-runners in Sunday's election, which was seen as a first step toward the country's recovery from a year and a half of unrest.

The two other top candidates are Soumaila Cisse, who ran the West African Monetary Union, and a relative unknown, Dramane Dembele, who is backed by Mali's largest political party,  ADEMA.

Sunday's election was peaceful and had a relatively high voter turnout, with some areas reporting it at more than 50 percent.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault praised the election as a great success that should give Mali "every chance" to become a democratic independent nation.

France led a military intervention in Mali after a chaotic 18 months that saw a military coup and Islamist takeover of the north.