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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Controversy mars Mali election results
Mali's tv and  radio crew waiting to broadcast the delayed results
Mali's state television has had to fill airtime with music
Controversy continues to surround the results from Mali's presidential election which was held on Sunday.

The Interior Ministry had promised that the counting would be finished by Tuesday evening, but so far only 10% of the vote has been processed.

Five other presidential candidates have already rejected the results, alleging irregularities.

Former head of state General Amadou Toumani Toure is currently in the lead with just under 30% of the votes which have been counted.

Former finance minister Soumali Cisse is second with about 25%.

RPM spokesman Seydou Keita talking to reporters in the capital Bamako
RPM party joined four others in rejecting the partial results announced by the Interior Ministry
International election observers have agreed not to make an official statement until a final result is declared.

It is likely that a second round of voting will be needed on 12 May, as no single candidate is expected to achieve the 50% needed to win outright.

Password accident

The announcement of the results of Sunday's election was delayed after a computer technician had a car accident on Tuesday.

Election officials said he was the only person with the password to access the election centre's computers - forcing the vote count to be suspended for a time.

But the BBC's Joan Baxter in the capital, Bamako, says that many people suspect officials used the accident as a handy excuse to suspend counting and steal a few hours of sleep.

Mali's state television and radio crews have been broadcasting live from the Interior Ministry, ready at any second to broadcast to the nation official overall results.

Due to they delay they have had to fill airtime with music.

Three-way race

President Alpha Oumar Konare is stepping down after two five-year terms in office. Mali's constitution does not allow him to stand for a third term.

Queue at a polling booth in the capital, Bamako
Many voters were turned away because they did not have the correct ID
Twenty-four candidates ran in the first round.

The results are expected to show a tight three-way race between General Toure, who led Mali during the 1991-92 transition period, former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Mr Cisse.

Five presidential candidates have already rejected the results, alleging irregularities.

Opposition candidate Mountaga Tall has voiced his unhappiness that Mr Cisse's campaign manager is the wife of the interior minister - who is in charge of organising the election.

But the minister has said that he will remain impartial.

In one district, Mr Cisse received all of the 800-odd votes cast.

Camel ballots

The turn-out is not yet clear but there are indications that many people stayed at home.

Identity cards are required to cast votes and only 30% of Malians possess these documents.

Results are slow coming in from remote regions in Mali's desert north, where there are no telephones or fax machines for transmitting results to the central counting office in Bamako.

In those remote regions, many of the polling booths were mobile - four-wheel drive vehicles and camels transported ballot boxes to inaccessible nomadic peoples.

See also:

28 Apr 02 | Africa
Mali votes for new president
15 Apr 02 | Africa
Timbuktu - city of legends
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