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FILE PHOTO: Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of Mali and candidate for Rally for Mali party (RPM), casts his vote at a polling station during the presidential election in Bamako, Mali July, 29 2018. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

(reuters_tickers)

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won re-election with 67 percent of the vote in a run-off against opposition rival Soumaila Cisse, the Ministry of Territorial Administration said on Thursday.

The victory hands Keita a second five-year term in the mostly desert West African country where militant violence and claims of fraud by the opposition marred the poll.

Keita's now faces the giant task of lifting Mali out of a spiral of Islamist and ethnic violence in the centre and north where attacks worsened in the months leading up to the vote despite the presence of U.N. and French troops.

Threats by jihadist militants forced nearly 500 polling stations - about two percent of the total - to stay closed during Sunday's run-off, the government said. One election official was killed in northern Niafunke, in Timbuktu region.

It also meant voter turnout of over 2.7 million people was a muted 34 percent of the electorate.

Cisse has accused the Keita's campaign of ballot stuffing and tweaking electoral rolls to secure the win, accusations Keita denies.

Despite the bitter rhetoric leading up to Thursday's results, however, the streets of Bamako and other main cities remained calm this week. The country exports gold and cotton.

(Reporting By Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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Reuters