Problems seen with Malian vote

July 30, 2013 at 1:29 PM
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BAMAKO, Mali, July 30 (UPI) -- Early celebrations following weekend presidential elections in Mali suggest there may have been problems at the polls, a political candidate said.

Mali held the first round of presidential elections Sunday, less than eight months after French forces helped take on foreign and al-Qaida fighters who took control of parts of the country following a 2012 coup.

The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Mali reported a high voter turnout across the entire country. Elections were described as relatively peaceful.

French and European leaders expressed their satisfaction with the contest. Malian leaders committed to the election following a European donors conference in May.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said the election was an important first step on the road to Mali's recovery.

"Though domestic and international observers witnessed minor technical difficulties, voting took place peacefully throughout Mali," she said in a statement Monday.

The U.S. Embassy in Bamako said it deployed U.S. observers to polling stations on Election Day in Mali.

Supporters of former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubakar Keita took to the streets Sunday anticipating a victory though vote tallies are still under way.

Soumaila Cisse, a rival candidate, was quoted by China's official Xinhua News Agency as saying Tuesday the weekend celebrations led to suggestions "there was manipulation" during the contest.

A second round of voting is scheduled for Aug. 11 if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.

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