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Mali Holds Presidential Election

Voters in Mali have cast ballots for a new president following a tumultuous 18 months that saw a military coup in the south and an Islamist takeover of the north ended by a French-led military intervention.

People lined up under tight security to cast their ballots in Sunday's election.

In Timbuktu, voters expressed excitement about the electoral process.



However, in other cities, such as the northern region of Kidal, voter turnout was reported low, with some election workers failing to show up. Tuareg separatists, who seized much of northern Mali, threatened voters and polling stations in that area.

The top four challengers in the race include two former prime ministers -- Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Modibo Sidibe.

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



Issues surrounding the distribution of voter ID cards and errors on the voter list have sparked allegations of fraud and irregularities.

But the head of the European Union observer mission in Mali, Louis Michel, said the team has been "pleasantly surprised" with conditions for the vote.

About 7 million Malians are eligible to vote in the election to replace interim President Dioncounda Traore, who was appointed last year.

If no candidate wins a clear majority, the two top-scoring challengers will head to a runoff on August 11.

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