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‘Ballot stuffing’ claims as Keita takes Mali election lead

© Pierre-René Worms/FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-04

Official results give former Malian Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita a strong lead in the country’s high-stakes presidential election – but supporters of main rival Soumaila Cisse have alleged that Sunday’s vote was marred by ballot stuffing.

Malian presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse’s URD party claimed Wednesday accused other parties of "ballot stuffing" following rumours his arch rival Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had won the first round of voting outright.

The country’s Minister for Territorial Administration Moussa Sinko Coulibaly said earlier that former prime minister Keita had won around a third of the ballots counted so far from Sunday's first round, giving him a wide lead over Cisse and the other candidates.

Coulibaly said the turnout was 53 percent, a record for Mali.

"We denounce the ballot stuffing,” Madou Diallo, president of the URD’s youth wing told a meeting of around 1,000 activists.” In spite of this, according to our figures, a second round is inevitable to decide between Cisse and Keita.”

“The minister for territorial administration announced a turnout of 53 percent. That gives about 3.6 million voters who voted. It means it will take at least 1.8 million votes to win the first round, whereas so far no candidate has more than a million votes. It is 100 percent certain there will be a second round.”

Diallo did not specify which candidate had benefited from the alleged ballot-stuffing

Election a two-horse race

Although there were 27 presidential hopefuls, analysts have characterised the election as a two-horse race.

Keita is seen as the frontrunner ahead of Cisse, a former finance minister and erstwhile chairman of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

Abdoulaye Coulibaly, another URD youth leader, said the party's own figures showed Cisse had secured a majority in six of the eight regions of Mali and he vowed that the URD would take legal action to counteract fraud.

"We will lodge an appeal to the constitutional court and you will see that many votes will be cancelled from our opponents," he said.

Other delegates at the meeting accused territorial administration minister Coulibaly's department of having "failed in its duties" and called for him to be sacked.

Sunday's vote was the first since an uprising by Tuareg separatists sparked a military coup in March 2012 which toppled democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Toure, plunging Mali into a political crisis and opening the way for Islamists to occupy the vast desert north for 10 months, before being ousted by a French-led military offensive.

An official announcement of the result is expected on Thursday. If no one candidate gets an outright majority, the election will go to a second round run-off on August 11 between the two most popular candidates.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-01

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