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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 00:48 GMT 01:48 UK
Mali court reviews 'vote-rigging'
Presidential candidates Choguel Maiga and Mountaga Tall
Maiga (left) and Tall say the results should be annulled
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By the BBC's Joan Baxter
Mali's Constitutional Court is deliberating whether to validate the results of the first round of presidential elections on 28 April, as the opposition steps up its campaign to have them annulled.

Interior Minitry results
Amadou Toumani Toure: 28%
Soumaila Cisse: 23%
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita: 21%
Turnout: 39%

The court is considering complaints from an unspecified number of parties - 24 candidates stood in the election.

If the court accepts the results, there will be a run-off on 12 May between a former head of state, General Amadou Toumani Toure, and the ruling party candidate, Soumaila Cisse.

An opposition alliance led by former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whom the results show placed third, has called for the results to be declared void.

'Stolen' poll

Mr Keita, and other prominent presidential candidates including Mountaga Tall and Choguel Maiga, addressed a weekend rally attended by 20,000 people at a stadium outside the capital, Bamako.

Bamako stadium
20,000 people attended the stadium rally
He spoke of "massive and systematic" vote-rigging, and said the election had been "stolen from the people".

Mr Keita called on his supporters to "remain serene and calm" to avoid being "provoked into violence".

He asked them to obey his orders, to remain off the streets for now, hoping that the Constitutional Court will be "honest".

Mr Keita alleges that the election results were manipulated to ensure that he did not pass to the second round of the presidential poll.

Foreign observers

Earlier in the week, the Independent Electoral Commission staged a late-night visit to the interior ministry, following allegations that tally sheets were being manipulated.

Former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
Keita alleges 'grotesque' fraud in the count
The Electoral Commission then wrote to the interior minister, expressing concerns that vote-counting was being carried out without tally sheets.

International observers have agreed not to make any public comments until final results are in.

But David Pottie, head of the team of observers from the Carter Centre in the USA, says the observers were "frustrated" that they had only "adhoc" access to the counting process, particularly the computer facilities where results were being tallied in the ministry of the interior.

But a definitive decision about the legality of the elections rests exclusively with Mali's Constitutional Court.

Complaints had to be lodged by Sunday, and the court is expected to deliver its verdict in the coming days.

See also:

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