Protests as Bazoum is Declared Winner of Niger’s Presidential Election

Protesters have hit the streets of Niamey, capital of Niger Republic, after Mohamed Bazoum of the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya) was declared winner of the presidential election.

Niger held its general elections on 27 December 2020 to elect the President and National Assembly. However, no presidential candidate received a majority of the vote, prompting a run-off poll that was held on 21 February 2021. 

Issaka Souna, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), declared Bazoum, 61, winner of the election with just under 55% of the vote, while Mahamane Ousmane, a former president who was toppled by a coup in 1996, won a little more than 44% of the poll.

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Though the provisional results must still be confirmed by the constitutional court, analysts believe the confirmation is a mere formality, as the country seeks its first-ever transition from one democratically elected leader to another.

Following the release of the results, Ousmane’s supporters protested by burning tyres at his campaign headquarters and in other parts of Niamey. They alleged voter fraud, claiming votes were stolen, although no proof has been made public.

Also, Ousmane’s campaign, without providing proof, allged there were widespread fraud, including the theft and stuffing of ballot boxes, and threats against voters. The campaign demanded the “immediate suspension of the publication of these results”, saying that it did not express the “will of the Nigerien people for change.”

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Voting had been marred by separate attacks that killed eight people in two regions, where Islamist militants operate. In the first incident, a landmine struck a vehicle in the western Tillabery region, near the border with Mali, killing seven election workers heading to the polls.

On his part, Bazoum, a former interior minister, has thanked Nigeriens for voting him as president and vowed to confront all challenges facing the country headlong.

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