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Mali to Proceed With July 28 Election

Electoral materials are stacked in a customs office after shipment from France in Bamako, Mali, June 18 2013.
Mali's government says the July 28 presidential election will go ahead as planned despite concerns about logistical problems.

Moussa Coulibaly, Mali's Minister of Territorial Administration, said Tuesday that there was never any question regarding the date of the poll.

"There has never been any doubt about the elections," he said. "We are ready. All is in order. We are going to hold elections on the 28th."

Coulibaly said his department, and not Mali's election commission, had final say over the poll.

The election will be the first since last year's coup that allowed al-Qaida-linked groups to seize control of the north. The Islamists were later ousted by a French-led military offensive.

Last month, the head of the election commission raised doubt as to whether the vote would take place, saying the distribution and production of voter cards was behind schedule.

Many have also raised concerns over security for campaigning and voting in the north, as well how the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict will cast ballots.

Fifteen candidates are running for president, with campaigning set to begin July 7. There is no clear frontrunner, and local pollsters are already predicting a run-off. The top three candidates all held high-level posts in one or both of the two previous governments.

Security in the north will be largely handled by a U.N. peacekeeping force that took over from an African-led mission on Monday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.