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Mali goes to polls in presidential run-off

Mali goes to polls in presidential run-off
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Voting is underway in Mali’s presidential run-off election.

Heavy rains in the capital Bamako have made conditions difficult but they have not deterred many from casting their ballot in a contest it is hoped will restore stability in a country torn apart by last year’s coup and Islamist insurgency.

Former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, or IBK as he is widely known, is the overwhelming favourite to win.

He is the front-runner after wining nearly 40 percent in the first round last month and has pledged to impose order.

His rival Soumaila Cisse took 19 percent in the first round but his promise to improve education, create jobs and reform the army has seen him increasingly gain support.

Despite being Africa’s No. 3 gold producer, Mali – twice the size of France – is one of the world’s poorest and least developed nations.

Former colonial power France has pushed for quick elections as it prepares to withdraw its 3,000 troops and handover security responsibility to a 12-thousand strong UN peacekeeping force.

Some observers have warned that the rush to elections might lead to problems but EU election observers gave the first round a clean bill of health. Final results are expected next week.