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    Mali Presidential Vote Set for July 28

    Mali will hold a presidential election on July 28, as the West African country tries to recover from its ongoing political crisis.

    The poll would be the first since soldiers overthrew President Amadou Toure in March 2012, which allowed Islamist militants to seize control of the north.

    French-led forces have driven the militants back but Mali's government faces multiple challenges with the upcoming poll. Fighting in the north has displaced hundreds of thousands of Malians, and Tuareg separatists are now in control of the key northern city of Kidal.

    The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday it will support voter registration efforts in camps for Malian refugees in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Algeria.

    Mali's current leader, interim President Dioncounda Traore, has said that neither he nor any member of his government will run in the presidential poll.



    Mali's interim government says campaigning for the election will begin July 7 and end on July 26. If no candidate wins an absolute majority, a run-off vote will take place August 11.

    Western countries have made the stabilization of Mali a high priority because of fears the country could become a haven for terrorists.

    The groups that took control of northern Mali last year have links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. One of the groups, MUJAO, claimed responsibility for attacks on a military barracks and a French-owned uranium mine last Thursday in Niger.

    On May 15, international donors meeting in Europe pledged more than $4 billion for development and peace-building efforts in Mali.

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