Mali President Claims Election Win Amid Fraud Accusations

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has won re-election "comfortably" based on his campaign's vote count, his spokesman said on Tuesday, dismissing claims from the opposition that they won.

With official results not expected for a few days, the two sides have been swapping counterclaims and accusations since Monday's second-round run-off.

The ballot pitted Keita, who is seeking a second term to rule the West African gold- and cotton-producing country, against opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who said on Monday that the vote was fraudulent and that he was victor.

Cisse has not provided concrete evidence for his accusations and Keita has denied any wrongdoing.

The poll was tarnished by voting irregularities and militant violence that shut nearly 500 polling stations on Monday, about 2 percent of the total. Turnout was also low.

"The results issued from our campaign headquarters indicate that Ibrahim Boubacar Keita would be comfortably re-elected," his campaign manager Bocary Treta told reporters.

European Union observers said on Tuesday they saw irregularities but not fraud.

"The vote generally took place calmly, despite security incidents in the center and north," EU mission head Cecile Kyenge told reporters in the capital Bamako.

"Our observers did not see fraud but problems of irregularities," she said, citing threats by armed groups and a lack of communication between election officials.

Mali is a major concern for Western powers due to the presence of militant groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

EU observers did not deploy to some regions in the north and center due to repeated attacks there by jihadist groups and ethnic militia this year that have killed hundreds of civilians, Malian troops and U.N. peacekeepers.

A Malian observer group estimated turnout for the second round at only about 27 percent of 8 million registered voters due to security fears and voter apathy.

Keita won the first round on July 29 with about 41 percent of the vote despite his government's failure to slow the surging violence.

Source: Voice of America