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Former prime minister has wide lead in Mali vote

Tuesday - 7/30/2013, 2:40pm  ET

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) -- A Malian official says early results show veteran politician and former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has a wide lead in the country's presidential election, potentially allowing him to avoid a runoff next month.

Col. Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, minister of territorial administration, said Tuesday that with one-third of the vote counted, Keita, known by his initials IBK, was well ahead of the 27-candidate field, followed by former finance minister Soumaila Cisse.

He said officials would be finished counting the vote by Wednesday at the latest.

Mali's election is seen as a new beginning for a country that suffered a military coup last March and then lost half of its territory to various rebel groups including Islamist radicals linked to al-Qaida, prompting France to intervene militarily earlier this year.

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