Niger heads to polls in search of first democratic transition

12/27/2020 8:45:00 AM

Niger heads to polls in search of first democratic transition

Niger heads to polls in search of first democratic transition

Niger votes in an election on Sunday that is expected to lead to the first transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents in a country reeling from Islamist violence.

FILE PHOTO: Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou arrives at the airport for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana September 15, 2020.Niger's demonstrators throw stones as opposition supporters protest after the announcement of the results of the country's presidential run-off in Niamey, on February 24, 2021.Chadian troops participate in the closing ceremony of operation Flintlock in an army base in N'djamena, Chad, March 9, led by Mahamat Mahadi Ali, a veteran insurgent who previously lived in France.

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko Former interior minister Mohamed Bazoum, the ruling party’s candidate, is the overwhelming favourite to succeed President Mahamadou Issoufou, who is stepping down after two five-year terms leading the largely desert country of 23 million.Bazoum, 60, has promised continuity with Issoufou’s policies, while also vowing to clean up pervasive corruption.On Tuesday the election commission declared ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum winner with 55.“If I am lucky enough to win this election, you will have chosen someone who is ready from day one,” he said in a campaign video.The women, including one who is pregnant, were raped in the presence of their husbands who were held at gunpoint by the soldiers, according to the commission's report.Niger faces twin security crises.Police were seen beating protesters with fists and batons, in streets strewn with rocks and abandoned goods carts.It has suffered repeated attacks near its western borders with Mali and Burkina Faso from militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.The armed forces have recently sent reinforcements to Kanem, security forces said.

Near its southeastern border with Nigeria it faces attacks from Boko Haram."The compilation of results.Chad's Defence Ministry and the government of Niger were not immediately available to comment.Hundreds of soldiers and civilians have been killed in the last year alone.The economic situation is also critical..More than 40% of the population lives in extreme poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed growth to a crawl, compounding the effects of climate change and low prices for top export uranium.READ MORE:.Bazoum faces 29 other candidates, who will hope to force a second round by denying him an outright majority of the vote.3 percent of the vote," Ousmane said, according to a video of a speech he made in the southeastern town of Zinder.Prosecutors said on Thursday that they were interviewing over 700 people arrested at demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hama Amadou, who finished runner-up in the last election, was barred from running because of a criminal conviction, leaving the opposition without an obvious figurehead.But last week, Amadou’s party called on its supporters to turn out for Mahamane Ousmame, who was president from 1993-1996.Ousmane rejected the results in several areas where he said "irregularities" had occurred, claiming he had won 50.“After my candidate was disqualified, I didn’t have the motivation to come out and vote,” said Ali Hamma, an Amadou supporter.“But with the new instructions, I am going to vote.7 percent in the presidential run-off.” A peaceful transfer of power would be a milestone for Niger, which has experienced four coups since gaining independence from France in 1960.READ MORE:.

It would also stand in stark contrast to Ivory Coast and Guinea, whose presidents this year used constitutional changes to extend their tenures to three terms, raising fears of a democratic backslide in West Africa.Internet restricted The internet was severely restricted on Wednesday, forcing Ousmane's campaign team to distribute the video to journalists in Niamey by hand.Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Christina Fincher Our Standards:.

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