Mali president's party wins parliamentary election

UN peacekeeper guards polling station in Kidal. 14 Dec 2013 Polling stations, like this one in Kidal, were heavily guarded

An alliance of parties supporting Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has won parliamentary elections, according to provisional results announced by the government.

The Rally for Mali (RPM) and its allies won 115 of 147 seats in the national assembly following a run-off on Sunday, officials announced on state TV.

Turnout for both rounds of voting was said to be low.

The vote marks Mali's return to democracy after a coup in 2012.

France still has up to 3,000 soldiers in the country after intervening in January to oust Islamist and secessionist rebels who had occupied the north of the country.

The West African nation held a peaceful presidential election in August, but since then has seen a surge in violence.

The results of the parliamentary election, which uses a complex list system, will be official only when Mali's Constitutional Court releases its figures, expected later this week.

Officials said on Tuesday that the Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) won between 17 and 19 seats, making former presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse leader of the opposition.

Turnout in the second round was put at 37.2%, a fall from 38.6% in the first round which itself was considered disappointing.

As well as French forces, the UN's Minusma force has also deployed more than 6,000 soldiers and police in the country.

But despite some success, Islamist groups have stepped up their operations.

Earlier this month, two UN peacekeepers were killed by a car bomb in the north-eastern town of Kidal.

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