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Former Malian PM Leading in Early Election Results

Mali presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita gestures after casting his ballot in Bamako, Mali, 28, July, 2013.
Officials in Mali are expected to release full provisional results of the country's presidential election on Wednesday.

Sunday's polling was seen as a first step toward Mali's recovery from a year-and-a-half of unrest.

On Tuesday, territorial administration minister Colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly said partial results indicated that front-runner and former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had a comfortable lead and could win an outright victory.

He did not reveal the extent of the margin but said if it was maintained, there would be no need for a runoff vote.

Coulibaly said with about one-third of the votes counted, former finance minister Soumaila Cisse was in second place.

The other two top candidates are former prime minister Modibo Sidibe and a relative unknown, Dramane Dembele, who is backed by Mali's largest political party, ADEMA.

News reports on Wednesday said some candidates have rejected election projections that could give Keita an outright win.

Sunday's election was peaceful and had a relatively high voter turnout, with some areas reporting it at more than 50 percent.

The voting has come on the heels of this year's French-led military intervention, which followed a military coup and an Islamist takeover in Mali's north.