Niger Votes in Search of First Democratic Transition

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Niger Votes in Search of First Democratic transition
Members of Niger's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) load ballot boxes and election equipment onto a truck on December 26, 2020, in Niamey, on the eve of the country's presidential and legislative elections. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)
Nwolu Obiajulu

Niger heads to the polls on Sunday (today) in an election that is expected to pave way for the first transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents in a country battling insecurity.

Reports say Mohamed Bazoum, former interior minister, the ruling party’s candidate is in pole position to replace President Mahamadou Issoufou, who has completed two five-year terms leading the West African country, CGTN reports.

The 60 years old Bazoum in his campaign address, promised to continue with Issoufou’s policies, while also vowing to cleanse the country of corruption.

Bazoum in a campaign video said, “If I am lucky enough to win this election, you will have chosen someone who is ready from day one.”

The election comes at a time when Niger is facing twin security crises. It has suffered repeated attacks near its western borders with Mali and Burkina Faso from militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. Near its southeastern border with Nigeria it faces attacks from Boko Haram.

Bazoum will battle 29 other candidates, who will hope to force a second round by denying him an outright majority of the vote.

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.

Amadou’s party last week urged its supporters to cast their votes for Mahamane Ousmame, who was president from 1993-1996.

“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.”

A smooth transfer of power would be a milestone for Niger, which has experienced four coups since gaining independence from France in 1960.

This post was written by Nwolu Obiajulu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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