Voters in Mali cast ballots Sunday for a new president for the first time after a chaotic 18 months that saw a military coup, an Islamist takeover of the north, and French-led military intervention.
Security was tight and the voting was free of violence, despite threats by Tuareg separatists.
VOA correspondent Anne Look says election officials are reporting a record-high voter turnout and describes the mood in the country as happy.
Candidates for the new president 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.
They are seeking to replace interim President Dioncounda Traore, who was appointed last year. If no candidate wins a majority, the two top-scoring challengers will head to a runoff on August 11.
"It's giving me a great pleasure, it's a great pleasure, I want a good president for my country. The time has come for a change in Mali. We are in a hurry for that, I'm even in a hurry to get into the bureau to vote."