* Local media, citing partial tallies, put ex-PM in lead
* Rival Cisse complains of fraud, intimidation
By Daniel Flynn
BAMAKO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Election observers on Monday hailed a weekend presidential runoff in Mali as a success as results trickled in from across the West African country from a vote meant to draw a line under more than a year of turmoil.
Although official figures are not expected until Tuesday at the earliest, Malian media cited partial vote counts from across the vast, landlocked former French colony that put ex-prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita firmly in the lead, particularly in the populous south.
His rival Soumaila Cisse, a former finance minister who polled just 19 percent in the first round, said the vote had been marred by fraud and intimidation. However, international and local observers said that, despite small irregularities, the process had been credible.
Keita, commonly known by his initials IBK, swept the July 28 first round with nearly 40 percent of votes on a ticket to restore order after a March 2012 military coup allowed Islamists to seize control of the northern two-thirds of Mali.
France sent thousands of troops in January to break the al Qaeda-linked rebels' grip on northern Mali.
Paris now aims to draw down its contingent to a rapid response team of 1,000 troops to face the scattered Islamist threat, while handing broader security duties to a 12,600-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission being deployed.
Keita received the backing of 22 of the 25 losing first round candidates. Diplomats now hope a clean election will give him a strong mandate to negotiate a lasting peace with northern Tuareg separatists, reform the army and tackle deep-rooted graft.
"This election, from a democratic standards point of view, is a success," said the head of a European Union observer mission, Louis Michel. "It is an election that allows Mali now to start finishing the process that it has begun: the return to a normal democracy."
The EU mission said that voting conditions were excellent to satisfactory in 99 percent of the 831 voting stations it observed, from a total of 21,000. The European Union, which in May pledged some 1.3 billion euros in development aid to Mali over the next two years, called on both candidates to accept the outcome of the vote.
"IMPRESSIVE" LACK OF VIOLENCE
POCE, a network of more than 2,000 local observers, also concluded the vote met international standards and its credibility was not affected by some isolated irregularities.
However Cisse, who also alleged fraud in the July 28 first round, said that representatives of political parties and electoral officials had been intimidated by security forces at polling stations.
"There was attempted fraud by delivering fewer ballots than necessary to some voting stations. Where did the others go to?" he asked. "One individual ... was arrested with more than 200 ballot papers marked in favour of IBK."
Diplomats briefed on the voting process played down Cisse's accusations and said there had been evidence of his supporters attempting to buy votes in Gao, northern Mali's largest town.
"This was an important stage in the transition in Mali towards peace and reconciliation," U.N. Special Representative for Mali Bert Koenders said. "There were small imperfections ... but the lack of violence was impressive in a country which has just emerged from conflict."
MUJWA, one of three Islamist groups which seized control of northern Mali last year, had threatened to carry out attacks on polling stations in northern Mali before the July 28 first round but the electoral process passed off without any violence. (Additional reporting by Adama Diarra; Editing by David Lewis and Robin Pomeroy)