, BAMAKO, August 1 – The results of a first round of voting in Mali’s crunch presidential election will be announced on Friday, a day later than expected, the presidency said.
No explanation was given for the delay, announced by the presidency’s Twitter account on Thursday, but an official from the ministry of territorial administration said vote counting had not been completed following Sunday’s poll.
“The law allows us until Friday for the publication of interim results and we have not quite finished counting. It is tedious work,” the official said.
The crucial election comes after a disastrous March 2012 coup ousting president Amadou Toumani Toure, which left one of the region’s most stable democracies crippled by political crisis and led to an Islamist insurgency.
As hardline Al Qaeda allies took control of the country’s vast north, and threatened to extend their often violent rule, former colonial power France launched a military offensive to drive out the Islamist fighters.
The election is seen as key to the country’s recovery.
Initial results showed on Tuesday that former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had taken a comfortable lead, and interior minister Moussa Sinko Coulibaly said there would be no need for a second round vote on August 11 if the trend continued.
But the party of Keita’s rival Soumaila Cisse said Wednesday the election had been marred by “ballot stuffing”, a form of electoral fraud in which people submit multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is allowed.
He called for the interior minister Coulibaly to be sacked.
Although there were 27 presidential hopefuls, analysts have characterised the election as a two-horse race. Keita was seen as the frontrunner ahead of Cisse, a former finance minister and erstwhile chairman of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.