Malians voted in the first round of presidential elections Sunday. The vote came less than eight months after French forces, at Mali's request, intervened to help its former colony fight al-Qaida and foreign fighters who took control of the North following a 2012 coup.
The Malian government said Friday former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita secured 39.2 percent of the vote while former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse claimed 19.4 percent of the vote, the BBC reported.
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 interim government committed to timely elections during a May donors conference in Brussels.
Keita, viewed as a strongman, campaigned against the humiliation brought on by the government's request to the former colonial power. Cisse rallied against the military power in control after the coup.
Both men square off in a second round of voting scheduled Aug. 11.