Malians vote in presidential runoff
August 12, 2013 -- Updated 0203 GMT (1003 HKT)
Malian electoral agents count votes at a polling station in Bamako.
- The contest is between Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Soumaila Cisse
- No candidate won a majority in the first round of voting last month
- Final results are not expected for days in the country rocked by coup, Islamist militants
(CNN) -- Malians headed to the polls Sunday to vote for a president after a coup last year plunged the nation into chaos and left the north in the hands of Islamists.
Heavy rain fell in the morning, potentially lowering turnout. Early results could come in as early as Sunday night, though final results are not expected for days.
The contest is between veteran politician and former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who got nearly 40% of votes in the first round, and former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse, who garnered close to 20% of the vote.
Keita ran for office in 2002 and 2007. He lost both times, most recently to Amadou Toumani Toure.
Toure was ousted by a faction of the military in March of last year, plunging Mali into chaos.
Mali heads to polls
Combating violence against women in Mali
Ancient Islamic manuscripts under threat
Mali's refugee crisis worsening
A group of outraged soldiers accused the government of not providing adequate equipment to battle ethnic Tuareg rebels roaming the vast desert in the north. Disgruntled, the soldiers marched to the palace.
A few hours later, a soldier appeared on state television and said the military was in control of the nation. The coup leader later stepped down and transferred power to a civilian transitional government.
But uncertainty reigned.
Islamic extremists, some with ties to al Qaeda, capitalized on the coup. They toppled the Tuareg tribe roaming in the north and seized control of Timbuktu and other cities in the region. They carved out a large portion of the region and began instituting their own laws.
They banned music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television, and destroyed historic tombs and shrines in the north. World leaders feared that the al Qaeda-linked militants would turn the area into a terrorist haven.
Their victories prompted a French-led military campaign in January to flush out the insurgents. France has a close tie to Mali after holding it as a colony from 1898 to 1960.
A successful election would allow France to withdraw some of the troops it put in place to halt Islamist militants from advancing toward the capital, Bamako. French troops and United Nations peacekeepers still patrol the streets of the fragile north.
The runoff election is taking place because no candidate won a majority in the first round of voting last month.
Journalist Katarina Hoije contributed to this report from Bamako.
Part of complete coverage on
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1527 GMT (2327 HKT)
The U.S. huffing over Ukraine jars with many after recent U.S.-led interventions, writes Simon Tisdall.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 2030 GMT (0430 HKT)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is unapologetic about his government's response to opposition protesters.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
He's 12 years old and going blind -- so his parents are taking him on a trip to fill his world with beautiful images.
Track star Oscar Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Follow live updates of South Africa's trial of the century.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)
To celebrate International Women's Day, CNN's Leading Women is inviting you to a Tweetchat.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Women journalists in the testosterone-fueled world of sports are still the target of abuse.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1027 GMT (1827 HKT)
Photographer Zack Seckler's series presents Botswana from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique view of the savannah.
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 0218 GMT (1018 HKT)
Concorde is a thing of the past, but a number of companies are racing to release the first supersonic business jet.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 2059 GMT (0459 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
From U.S. President Obama's phone call to Russian President Putin, to a python swallowing a crocodile, browse photos from last week.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 0543 GMT (1343 HKT)
Did you know that the idea to mark road surfaces reportedly came from watching a milk truck drip milk on the road?
The undersea cables wiring the Earth: this is what the Internet actually looks like.
Today's five most popular stories