BAMAKO, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Mali would hold presidential and legislative elections in July, a key step in stabilizing the West African country in the wake of a war against rebels, the government said Thursday.
The first round of the presidential vote is scheduled for July 7, Territorial Administration Minister Moussa Sinko Coulibaly told a news conference.
Legislative elections were set for July 21, along with a second round of the presidential election if a run-off was needed, he said.
A candidate will need to garner more than 50 percent of the vote to win in the first round, otherwise a second round run-off will be held between the two leading contenders.
Earlier, Mali's transitional President Dioncounda Traore has announced elections would be held on July 31.
The Malian government hopes to hold early elections to end the crisis unleashed by a military coup that ousted former President Amadou Toumane Toure in March 2012 and the occupation of northern Mali by rebels since April last year.
Northern Mali has been occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between government forces and Tuareg rebels. The conflict prompted the Malian government to request assistance from France to curb the military advance of extremist groups.
France intervened in its former colony on Jan. 11, after the rebels began pushing south, raising alarms that they were inching closer toward the capital of Bamako.