Alfa Omar Konare, a key figure in the uprising that toppled military dictator Moussa Traore, coasted toward victory yesterday in the second round of Mali's presidential elections.

With around four-fifths of the vote counted from Sunday's poll the former history professor had won 70.7 percent of the vote. Mr. Konare's rival, Tieoule Mamadou Konate, won only 30 percent of the vote, according to provisional election officials.

Only 16 percent of eligible voters turned out Sunday, compared to the 23 percent who turned out in the first round two weeks ago.

Western diplomats say Mali's electoral lists, which include all adults entitled to vote, not just those actively registered, tend to exaggerate abstentionism.

But political analysts said there also seemed to be a lack of interest in the poll, partly because of hot weather.

Following months of strikes and demonstrations against the 23-year iron-handed rule of President Traore, the military in March 1991 seized control of this West African nation. A year later, Lt. Col. Amadou Toumani Toure, the Army officer who led the takeover, announced Mali's first democratic elections.

Konare's victory had been widely predicted since the first round, when he failed to win an overall majority but was well ahead of eight rival candidates.

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