Bamako — Counting was under way Monday in Mali following a key presidential election in which balloting was halted at hundreds of polling stations because of violence. Nonetheless, candidates and authorities praised Sunday’s first round of voting, relieved that the violence — which included the torching of polling stations and assaults on electoral officials — caused no casualties. Security was a central issue during the campaign, in which 73-year-old President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is seeking re-election, with the international community hoping the poll will strengthen a 2015 peace accord. On Monday evening, Keita’s coalition announced the incumbent seemed "largely ahead" in the results. "He is in a good position to get a second term," Mahamadou Camara, a spokesman for the president, told reporters.

Leading the pack of his 23 challengers is Soumaila Cisse, 68, a former finance and economy minister, who lost by a wide margin in the 2013 election that brought Keita to power. C...

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