Breaking: Niger holds 2nd round of presidential election
People have taken to polling stations in Niger to vote in a presidential run-off between two political heavyweights in the West African country.
According to reports, on Sunday, the ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, is competing against former President Mahamane Ousmane, President of the Democratic and Republican Renewal Party, in the first democratic transition of power since the nation gained independence from foreigner powers in 1960.
Only 7.4 million of the country’s 22 million population are eligible to take part in the vote — the rest of the nation are too young.
Outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou’s decision to voluntarily step down after two five-year terms was welcomed by many in the country.
The favorite candidate in the run-off is 60-year-old Bazoum, who was Issoufou’s right-hand man and anointed successor.
He won 39.3 percent of the first round of vote on December 27.
Ousmane, the 71-year-old challenger took nearly 17 percent in the first round. Ousmane, who became the country’s first democratically- elected president in 1993 before he was toppled in a 1996 coup, is running for president for the fifth time since his ouster.
Niamey-based political analyst Elhadj Idi Abou said turnout was expected to be high given the nearly 70 percent participation in the first round. The choice was between continuity with Bazoum, or change with Ousmane, he noted.
Both men are considered stalwarts of Niger’s political scene which is both intertwined and plagued with domestic militancy complicated by foreign intervention.