Malians prepare for weekend voting

Aug. 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM
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BAMAKO, Mali, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Rival candidates headed for a second round of presidential voting in Mali said their supporters should work to rebuild a country torn in half by war.

Malians head to the polls for presidential run-off between former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse

Keita took 39.2 percent of the first round of voting in July, besting Cisse's 19.4 percent of the vote. A clear majority was needed for an outright victory.

French forces intervened in January at the request of an interim Malian administration struggling to fight off al-Qaida and foreign fighters who seized territory in the wake of a 2012 military coup.

Keita said the interim government embarrassed the country by seeking support from France, the former colonial power.

"They humiliated us to the point that people started to ally with the Islamists," he was quoted by Voice of America as saying. "Attention, Malians: that will never happen again."

Cisse has sided with the previous administration, blamed for much of the crisis.

"Even if we win the elections, the battle will be far from over," he said. "We must then rebuild the country."

Friday was the only official day for campaigning. VOA said no clear favorite was apparent.

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