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Europe says Malian vote was calm

July 29, 2013 at 1:08 PM

BRUSSELS, July 29 (UPI) -- Weekend elections in Mali were met with support by voters who cast their ballots barely eight months after French intervention, a European leader said.

Malians voted Sunday in the first round of presidential elections. The contest followed a January request for military support from former colonial power France.

Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy official for the European Union, said Sunday the voting was "calm." EU election mission chief Louis Michel said there were few reports of problems at the polls.

The U.S. State Department confirmed last week it had elections observers on hand near Bamako. No statements were published Monday, however, by the U.S. Embassy in Mali or the State Department.

The BBC reported revelers took to the streets Sunday predicting victory by former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubakar Keita. Vote counting continued Monday and a runoff is scheduled Aug. 11 if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.

The contest was the first for Mali to include female presidential candidates.

Paul Melly, an associate fellow at British think tank Chatham House, said last week Malians were frustrated with the political class following a 2011 coup.

Al-Qaida and foreign fighters seized control over northern Mali in the wake of the coup. Elections were meant to reunite the country.

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