With only a few days remaining to Niger’s election scheduled for 27 December, politicians intensify their campaigns. The anticipated election will be the country’s first democratic transition since independence.
Peaceful Democratic Transition
Incumbent Mahamadou Issoufo will not go for re-elections since he has served his two-terms. Consequently, he has paved the way for a peaceful transition between two elected presidents.
Since attaining independence from France in 1960, the West African country has had four coups. Notably, the coming election will thus be a landmark achievement for the country. It will go down in history as the first democratic transition.
The Sunday presidential and legislative elections will see 30 presidential aspirants face off on the ballots. To be elected, the aspirants must attain over 50% of the votes in the first round. If no candidate wins in the first round, a runoff will be conducted in February 2021.
Local elections had earlier been conducted on 13 December after being postponed severally. In the elections, the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) was out rightly the favorite.
About 7.4 million Nigeriens will take part in the anticipated presidential and legislative elections.
Bazoum Mohamed, of PNDS, is the favorite presidential candidate among the cleared 30 candidates. The 60-year-old political veteran held the office of minister of interior for the past four years. Moreover, he is Issoufou’s loyal ally, giving him an added advantage.
Niger’s first democratically elected president, Mahaman Ousmane, will also be vying for the top seat. The ex-president, elected in 1993 and ousted in 1996, seeks to make a comeback after over two decades.
In November, the main opposition leader and former premier, Hama Amadou, was barred by the court from taking part in the December elections. The court did not give a reason for the ruling. However, there are speculations that the order was based on the fact that Amadou, alongside one of his wive, was earlier charged with child trafficking and sentenced to a one-year prison term. On the contrary, Amadou says the ruling was politically motivated.
Similarly, the court also blocked a dozen of other candidates from vying for the presidential seat.
Speaking to the media, Boubacar Seyni Gagara, a member of Bazoum’s Communication Unit, expressed the optimism PNDS has in the nearing elections. He highlighted that the party had well over half of Niger’s mayorship.
He added that they [PNDS] pray to God that everything goes well in the presidential and legislative elections, just as it was the case in the local elections.
PNDS envisions that their popularity will push Bazoum well over the 50 percent mark.
Over the last ten years, the ruling party has prioritized food security and village development in rural areas. Consequently, the party has amassed the support of rural residents. This is a plus on PNDS, bearing the fact that Niger is predominantly rural.
If everything goes on as anticipated by PNDS, this election will also be the first for the country where the president is elected in the first round.
Niger, just like most West African countries, also has its dosage of insecurity. A day before the 13 December local elections, Jihadists had killed at least 27 people. The assailants also burned down about 1,000 homes and the central market in the Diffa region.
Nigerien government temporarily closed its borders before the local elections.
On the positive, experts believe that the state of insecurity will have minimal effects, and the 27 December election will proceed as planned.