Mali lawmakers choose leader from ruling party

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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali's lawmakers have selected a member of the president's political party to lead the National Assembly, the second most powerful position in the West African nation after the president.

Issaka Sidibe, a lawmaker representing the town of Koulikoro, 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of Bamako, was chosen Wednesday morning. He is second in line to the president. The opposition did not field a candidate in the assembly dominated by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's coalition.

Keita won elections last year after France staged a military intervention to drive out al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists who had taken over most of the country's north.

Security there remains precarious, especially around the city of Kidal where Tuareg rebels maintain a strong presence.

More than 1,000 candidates contested last year's elections for Mali's 147 parliamentary seats.

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