Bamako - Mali's presidential election will go to a second
round on August 11, the government said Friday, after no candidate secured a
majority in the landmark poll.
Figures for Sunday's ballot announced on live television
showed former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the lead with 39.2% of
the vote, ahead of main rival Soumaila Cisse with 19.4%.
The election is seen as key to Mali's recovery after a coup
in March last year overthrew Amadou Toumani Toure, plunging one of the region's
most stable democracies into political crisis and leading to an Islamist
As hardline al-Qaeda allies took control of the country's
vast desert north, and threatened to extend their often violent rule, former
colonial power France launched a military offensive in January to drive out the
"The new Mali is being built with patience, calm and
serenity for all Malians united around these challenges above ambitions and
pretensions, and not in a climate of agitation and invective..." Keita
tweeted in his latest campaign update ahead of the announcement.
Four former prime ministers and an array of political
heavyweights - but just one woman - featured in a list of 27 presidential
hopefuls, although analysts always characterised the election as a two-horse
race between Keita and Cisse.
Dramane Dembele, the candidate for Mali's largest political
party, the Alliance for Democracy in Mali, polled just 9.6%, taking third
The result will be seen as something of a surprise after
Keita took a comfortable early lead over Cisse, a former finance minister and
erstwhile chairman of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary
Interior minister Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, who announced the
result, had said there would be no need for a second round if the trend
Cisse's party said on Wednesday the election had been marred
by "ballot stuffing", a form of electoral fraud in which people
submit multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is
Acting president Dioncounda Traore and United Nations
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have acknowledged that the vote may be
"imperfect" in a country with 500 000 citizens displaced by conflict,
but have urged Malians to respect the outcome.
Critics have argued that Mali, under pressure from the international
community, rushed to the polls and risked a botched election which could do
more harm than good.
But initial estimates put the turnout above 50%, a huge
improvement on the 36 percent who voted in 2007, and Mali was praised by the
international community for running a transparent, credible and peaceful
Despite heavy security during voting after the Movement for
Oneness and Jihad in West Africa - one of the main armed groups in northern
Mali - said it would "strike" polling stations, no serious incidents
were reported on election day.
A UN peacekeeping mission integrating more than 6 000 west
African soldiers into its ranks is charged with ensuring security in the
post-election period, and will grow to 11 200 troops, plus 1 400 police, by the
end of the year.
The deployment allows France to start withdrawing most of
the 4 500 troops it sent to Mali in January to stop the Islamists from
advancing towards Bamako and Paris plans to have just 1 000 troops on the
ground before the end of the year.