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Mali Election Results Expected Thursday

Electoral officials in Mali are expected to release provisional results Thursday from the country's presidential election.

The results had been expected earlier in the week, but officials said they needed more time to verify vote counts sent in by individual polling stations nationwide.

On Tuesday, officials said a partial count indicated former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had a comfortable lead among the 27 candidates, with rival Soumaila Cisse trailing 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.

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