Mali election second round between incumbent and opposition chief: official

In the first round of Mali's presidential election incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (L) won 41.42 percent of the vote, with opposition figure Soumaila Cisse polling 17.80 percent, according to provisional results

Incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will face opposition figure Soumaila Cisse in the second round of Mali's presidential election on August 12, an official announced on Thursday.

In Sunday's first round Keita won 41.42 percent of the vote, with Cisse polling 17.80 percent, according to provisional results, said Territorial Administration Minister Mohamed Ag Erlafk on ORTM public television. Turnout was 43.06 percent, he added.

Businessman Aliou Diallo came in third with 7.95 percent of the vote and former transitional prime minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, an astrophysicist who held that office for eight months in 2012, completed the top four with 7.46 percent.

Voters in the vast west African country had 24 candidates to choose from in the key poll for the region, which still faces a threat from jihadists despite the presence of 15,000 UN peacekeepers, 4,500 French troops and a much heralded five-nation anti-terror G5 Sahel force.

Around 700 of the 23,000 polling stations -- mainly in the north and centre of the country -- were unable to open on Sunday due to violent incidents, but the polling "went ahead calmly" throughout the rest of the country, EU monitors said.

Jihadist violence has spread from northern Mali to the centre and south of the country and spilt over into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, often inflaming communal conflicts.

Mali, considered a linchpin state in the troubled Sahel region, is one of the world's poorest countries, with most people living on less than $2 a day.

In the first round of Mali's presidential election incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won 41.42 percent of the vote, with opposition figure Soumaila Cisse polling 17.80 percent, according to provisional results