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    Voters in Mali Choosing New President

    Voters in Mali are choosing a new president following a tumultuous 18 months that saw a military coup in the south and an Islamist takeover of the north that was ended by a French-led military invention.

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

    In Timbuktu, voters expressed excitement about the electoral process.



    "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."



    However, in other cities, such as the northern region of Kidal, voter turnout was reportedly low with some election workers failing to show up. Tuareg separatists, who seized much of northern Mali, threatened voters and polling stations in the 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 that the team has been "pleasantly surprised" with conditions for the vote.

    Some 7-million Malians are eligible to vote in the election to replace interim President Dioncounda Traore, 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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