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Mali's former PM taking early vote lead

BAMAKO, Mali, July 31 (UPI) -- Former Malian Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubakar Keita maintains the lead over former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse, an administrator said.

Mali held the first round of presidential elections Sunday. The election came less than eight months after French forces intervened to help its former colony fight foreign and al-Qaida fighters that seized territory following a 2012 coup.

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Keita has the lead by "a wide margin," Minster for Territorial Administration Col. Moussa Sinko Coulibaly was quoted by the BBC as saying Wednesday.

European leaders said the election was relatively peaceful and fair. The interim Malian government committed to timely elections during a May donors conference in Brussels.

Cisse said early celebrations in support of the former prime minister added credibility to allegations the vote was skewed.

The BBC reports about 30 percent of the votes from the weekend contest have been counted, though no formal figures were announced by government representatives.

A clear majority is needed to ensure a victory. A second round of voting is set for Aug. 11 should no candidate emerge with an outright win.

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