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Mali votes in presidential run-offSun, 11 Aug, 2013 | Posted By: The Times Of Earth (TOE)

Mali votes in presidential run-off Malians stand in line to vote at a polling station in Sebenikoro, a neighborhood in Bamako Photo: HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images
People in Mali are voting in a presidential election run-off. 

Despite the rain that started earlier in the morning and turns quite heavy in some of the six districts of the capital.

The election follows more than a year of turmoil which included a coup and a French-led military intervention to oust Islamist rebels from the north.

Former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita faces off Sunday against former finance minister Soumalia Cisse in a runoff contest that many analysts are describing as a potential turning point for the West African nation.

Keita dominated the first round of voting July 28 with nearly 40 percent of the vote, while Cisse pulled just under 20 percent. Since the July 28 polls, most of the 25 other candidates eliminated in the first round have thrown their support to Keita, including the third place finisher .

The election - the country's first since 2007 - is seen as crucial to unlocking nearly $4 billion in promised international aid that was suspended after a military coup last year plunged the country into chaos.

Keita and Cisse served together in a government in the 1990s, but ended up in opposing camps following the 2002 presidential win by Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown last year in the military uprising. In the chaos that followed, ethnic Tuareg separatists seized towns and cities in Mali's northern desert, with the help of several Islamist groups.

Those seizures and Islamist threats to the capital, Bamako, prompted former colonial power France to deploy troops earlier this year to push the Islamists back into desert areas.

A United Nations peacekeeping force of 12,000 troops began providing national security in July, as the last of the French force continues preparations to leave the country by the end of the year.

Source: Agencies
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