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BAMAKO, August 20, 2018 (News Wires) - Mali's constitutional court on Monday confirmed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's re-election in a run-off ballot, rejecting fraud accusations by the opposition candidate.

The decision clears the way for Keita to be inaugurated next month for a second five-year term, at a time when Malian authorities are contending with rising violence by jihadist groups and ethnic militia.

Challenger Soumaila Cisse had contested the electoral commission result of the Aug. 12 vote, which showed Keita winning 67 percent.

The election was tainted by armed attacks in the centre and north, where hundreds of polling stations remained closed, and a turnout of only 34 percent reflected fears of violence as well as voter apathy.

Cisse says he would have won 51 percent of the vote but for ballot box stuffing and other cheating by Keita's camp. Keita rejected the allegations.

The European Union observer mission and other local and international monitors said that, despite a number of irregularities and disruptions, they saw no evidence of fraud.

BAMAKO, Mali, August 16, 2018 (News Wires) — Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won a second five-year term in the turbulent West African nation with more than 67 per cent of the vote in a runoff election, the Ministry of Territorial Administration said on Thursday.

Opposition leader Soumaila Cisse received over 32 per cent of the vote in Sunday's runoff that had an estimated turnout of 34 per cent amid threats of violence from extremist groups.

The turnout dropped from the first round, in which nearly 43 per cent of voters made it to the polls.

The constitutional court must approve the results by August 22.

"We are very happy for this well-earned victory for our president," said Mahamadou Camara, spokesman for Keita. "Malians have expressed a choice which had already been evident since the first round. Our candidate came in first. We are not scared of a post-election crisis."

Cisse supporters gathered in the capital, Bamako, shouting in disappointment. The 68-year-old opposition leader has blamed Keita for the country's insecurity, and his party alleged fraud in the first round and warned against it in the runoff.

"We are not in agreement with these results. It's Soumaila Cisse who won, and we will march in protest because IBK stole our victory," said 33-year-old Oumar Toure, referring to the president by his initials.

It was not immediately clear whether Cisse's party would challenge the runoff's results in court.

The 73-year-old president leads a nation that has grown more insecure since he beat Cisse in a second-round election in 2013, the same year that French-backed forces pushed extremists in the north from their strongholds.

The extremists have been staging more brazen attacks that have spread into central Mali, where both Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked militants are present. Deadly communal clashes between ethnic groups and accusations of heavy-handed counterterror operations have caused even deeper tensions and mistrust of the state.

In northern and central Mali more than 50 polling stations had closed before noon on Sunday because of threats by extremists, according to the Citizen Observation Pool of Mali which had more than 2,000 observers.

The observers also reported several incidents of violence on voting day, including the killing of a village chairman and the harassment of at least four election workers. A number of polling stations were burned. In Bamako, voting was also hindered by rains.

BAMAKO, August 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Malian opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse said on Monday he would reject the results of a presidential runoff marred by accusations of fraud, violence and low turnout, calling on the population "to rise up."

Ballot counting continued on Tuesday across the vast West African country after Sunday's vote saw one poll worker killed and hundreds of stations closed due to insecurity.

"The fraud is proven, this is why there are results we will not accept," Cisse said at his party's headquarters in Bamako.

"I call on all Malians to rise up... We will not accept the dictatorship of fraud," he added.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 73, is the clear frontrunner in a reprise of his 2013 faceoff against former finance minister Cisse, 68.

But Cisse's team and other opposition contenders have repeatedly accused the government of fraud, including ballot-box stuffing and vote buying.

However the African Union (AU) election observers said the voting was carried out "in acceptable conditions," in a preliminary report published on Monday.

At this stage there is "no tangible element" pointing towards voting irregularities, the observers said, congratulating the Mali government for its efforts to improve the voting process and noting a drop in the number of untoward incidents in the second round of voting.

The European Union also said that in the 300 polling stations its observers visited, no "major incident" occurred. Their observers are expected to present their preliminary findings at 11:00 GMT.

Nearly 500 polling stations were unable to open on Sunday, the government said, mostly in regions plagued by jihadist violence and ethnic tensions.

"We had a little over 3.7 per cent of stations which had not functioned properly" during the first round on July 29, Salif Traore, Mali's security minister, said on Monday.

The figure fell to 2.1 per cent of the 23,000 polling booths in Sunday's runoff vote, which Traore said was due to the deployment of more military.

In a reminder of the jihadist threat that was a major campaign issue, the overseer of a polling station in Arkodia, in the northern region of Timbuktu, was shot dead on Sunday by armed Islamist militants, local officials said.

Aside from this "dramatic case," the government said the poll occurred without incident.

National turnout however was just 22.38 per cent, local monitors of the POCIM (the Mali Citizen Observation Pool) said.

Bamako, August 12, 2018 (AFP) - Malians were called to the ballot box on Sunday for a presidential runoff likely to see Ibrahim Boubacar Keita return to office despite criticism of his handling of the country's security crisis.

The second round is a rerun of a 2013 faceoff that Keita won by a landslide over former finance minister Soumaila Cisse.

This year's campaign saw fierce attacks on his failure to dampen a wave of jihadist bloodshed and ethnic violence.

But public enthusiasm has been low and the opposition is fractured.

Keita, 73, was credited with 41.7 per cent of the July 29 first-round vote while Cisse, 68, picked up 17.78 per cent.

Cisse insisted on Friday he could turn things around on polling day -- warning the status quo would only bring "chaos" in a "torn nation."

But he failed to unite the opposition behind him, and first-round challengers have either backed the president or refused to give voting instructions.

Few Malians attended a string of planned marches and protests called for by opposition leaders in the capital Bamako ahead of the run-off.

As a result, Keita, commonly named "IBK" after his initials, is the clear favourite.

A few hundred Keita supporters gathered late on Friday in the capital of Bamako for the last meeting of the campaign.

"He needs to finish what he started," Silandou Soumare, a civil servant, told AFP. "With all Malians on board, we can have peace in Mali!"

In 2013, Keita won more than three-quarters of the vote.

BAMAKO, Mali, July 29, 2018 (News Wires) — Voters in Mali are heading to the polls to select a president amid increasing attacks by extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

Voters expressed concern about being targeted after al-Qaida’s Mali branch warned against going to the polls. Deadly communal clashes between ethnic groups and accusations of heavy-handed counterterror operations also have complicated what President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita hopes will be a victory giving him a second term.

Keita, who was elected in 2013, faces 23 candidates in the first round.

His main challenger, Soumaila Cisse, has criticised the president for not addressing Mali’s rising insecurity.

Several political parties have expressed doubts about a valid election after duplicate and fictitious polling stations were listed on the electoral commission’s website. More than 8 million voters are registered.

BAMAKO, July 28, 2018 (MENA) - The death toll from an inter-ethnic attack in central Mali, which occurred in the run-up to crucial elections, has risen from at least three dead to 17, local media quoted sources as saying.

Armed men described as traditional hunters attacked the village of Somena on Wednesday, marking the latest flare up between nomadic Fulani and farmers from the Bambara and Dogon communities.

Abdoul Aziz Diallo, president of Tabital Pulaaku, the main Fulani association in Mali, said 17 people had died.

"We recovered all the bodies of the Fulani civilians who were killed and thrown into a well by Dogon hunters," he said.

The death toll of 17, inflicted by "armed men," was confirmed independently by a Malian government official who gave no further details.

Malian voters go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president.

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