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Mali votes in run-off amid heavy security

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This year's campaign saw fierce attacks on Keita's perceived failure to dampen a wave of jihadist bloodshed and ethnic violence, as well as mounting accusations of fraud during July's first round vote. AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Malians voted in a run-off presidential election on Sunday as thousands of soldiers were mobilised to provide security following an inconclusive first round last month that was marred by militant attacks and opposition accusations of fraud.

The Mali Citizen Observation Pool (POCIM) said there had been a “persistent climate of tension in some polling centers in Segou, Bamako and several other localities” in the run-off which saw a low turn out of voters.

Despite problems, the election had generally being conducted well, European Union observers said in preliminary comments.

In the worst incident, armed men killed the chairman of the electoral office in Arkodia village in Niafunke region in northern Mali, an army spokesman said, confirming observers’ reports.

Incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 73, is expected to win a second term even though he has been unable to stem a surge in ethnic and militant violence.

However opposition challenger Soumalia Cisse, 68, a former finance minister, said he was confident of victory but also accused the government camp of trying to stuff ballot boxes.

Mali is high on the list of Western powers’ security concerns, and a respectable election is important in the effort to restore stability to the vast West African nation.

For Malians the election is about securing peace but also alleviating hardship and poverty.

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