Ruling party candidate declared winner of Niger’s historic presidential runoff

Mohamed Bazoum speaks to media outside the polling station after voting during Niger's election run-off, in Niamey on February 21, 2021.
Mohamed Bazoum speaks to media outside the polling station after voting during Niger's election run-off, in Niamey on February 21, 2021. © Issouf Sanogo, AFP

Niger's ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum has won the presidential election with 55.75 percent of the vote, beating former President Mahamane Ousmane, the electoral commission said on Tuesday. 

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Opposition candidate Ousmane picked up 44.25 percent, Issaka Souna, chairman of Niger's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), said in an announcement attended by senior officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

"(These) results are provisional and must be put to the Constitutional Court for its assessment," Souna said.

After winning the first round in December by 22 points over Ousmane, Bazoum was endorsed by the third and fourth-place candidates in Sunday's runoff.

The vote marks the first transition in the Sahel nation from one democratically elected leader to another following Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou's decision to step down after serving two five-year terms.

On the campaign trail, Bazoum pledged continuity with Issoufou's policies – and even hired Issoufou's son as his campaign manager.

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His opponent, Ousmane, on the other hand, cast himself as a candidate for change, focusing on corruption allegations particularly on the defence ministry's handling of contracts.

Security is a major issue in a country affected by two of Africa's deadliest conflicts – one near its western border with Mali and Burkina, and another near its southeastern border with Nigeria.

Election workers killed in landmine blast

Shortly before the results of the runoff were declared Tuesday, Ousmane's campaign alleged widespread fraud, including the theft and stuffing of ballot boxes and threats against voters. It did not provide any evidence for the allegations.

"We demand the immediate suspension of the publication of these results, which do not in any way take into account the expressed will of the Nigerien people for change," Ousmane's campaign manager said in a statement.

Outside Ousmane's campaign headquarters and in other parts of the capital Niamey, his supporters protested by burning tyres. Police fired tear gas to disperse them.

The vote was also marred by two attacks that killed eight people in two regions of the country where Islamist militants are active, commission president Souna said.

Seven of the victims were election workers in the western Tillabery region, near the border with Mali, whose vehicle struck a landmine as they headed to the polls.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

 

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