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Mali Candidate Rejects Claims Keita May Win Vote Outright

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Mali Candidate Rejects Claims Keita May Win Vote Without Run-Off
Malian electoral agents count the votes at a polling station in Kidal, northern Mali, on July 28, 2013. Photographer: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

     July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Malian presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse’s campaign disputed a statement from a government minister that former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita may win the July 28 election without a run-off.

Minister of Territorial Administration Moussa Sinko Coulibaly told reporters yesterday that Keita held a “significant” lead and if the gap was maintained, there would be no need for a run-off vote. He has until Aug. 2 to send the preliminary results to the constitutional court, which will publish them.

The ministry has counted 12 percent of the ballots rather than a third as Coulibaly said yesterday, Gouagnon Coulibaly, the national coordinator of Cisse’s campaign, said today by phone from Bamako, the capital.

Keita, 68, leads Cisse, a 63-year-old former commission chairman of the West African Monetary Union, and Dramane Dembele, the minister said, without giving specific figures.

Mali’s first presidential election since an army coup and a French military offensive against rebels in the north won praise from foreign monitors including the European Union and the International Republican Institute. Donors deemed the vote necessary before they can resume aid to the West African nation, the continent’s third-biggest gold producer.

The 27-candidate race took place following more than a year of strife after an ethnic-Touareg uprising in the north prompted a group of soldiers to overthrow the government. French and African forces intervened to restore order after the Touaregs joined Islamist militants in an offensive that almost split the nation in half.

The voter participation rate in the election was 53.5 percent, Coulibaly said yesterday. At least half a million residents have fled from the north to the south or to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.

Cisse’s campaign is calling for an international commission to verify the vote tally.

“According to our figures, there will be a run-off with Soumaila Cisse,” Cisse’s party spokesman, Boureima Bore, said today by phone.

To contact the reporter on this story: Francois Rihouay in Abidjan at frihouay@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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