Niger’s vote counting is underway after the Sunday election that will mark the country’s first peaceful transition of power since its independence 60 years ago.
Incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou did not contest in the elections. He paved way for a successor to be elected after successfully serving for two five-year terms.
About 7.5 million Nigeriens cast their votes in the country that has a population of 23 million.
Announcement of Election Result
Election results are to be declared before Saturday. Subsequently, another two-week ratification of the results by the constitutional court will follow.
To win the elections, one of the presidential candidates will need to garner 50 percent plus of the votes. If no presidential candidate surpasses the 50 percent mark, the top two candidates will head back for a re-run in February.
60-year-old Mohamed Bazoum appears to be the most favored to win in the presidential elections contested by 30 individuals. Bazoum is the former interior and foreign minister, and Issoufou’s ally.
Moreover, Bazoum’s primary opponent, former prime minister Ham Amadou, was last month barred from contesting. Amadou is alleged to have been involved in baby-trafficking.
Niger defied all odds to hold a peaceful election. Many anticipated that the West African country’s elections would be marred by violence. On the contrary, the violence reported has been minimal.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has commended the government and Nigeriens for holding their elections on time despite humanitarian and security concerns.
On December 12, on the eve of municipal and regional elections, 34 residents were massacred in the southeastern region of Diffa. The murders resulted in three days of national mourning.
The witnessed peaceful election can be attributed to the massive deployment of the army ahead of the Sunday voting.
Ranked as the world’s poorest country by the UN’s Human Development Index, Niger has been unstable since it attained independence from France. Last year’s Word Bank records showed that the majority of Nigeriens lived below $1.90 a day. Also, the data outlined that about 23 million Nigeriens relied on food aid.
The predominantly Muslim country faces constant Jihadist attacks on two fronts – on its southeastern border with Nigeria and its southwestern boundary with Mali. The attacks have led to the death of hundreds in the past five years, with hundreds of thousands fleeing their homes.
Huge task ahead for the president-elect
Niger’s presidential seat will not be a bed of roses for the candidate that will emerge as the winner. There are underlying issues that the elected president will have to resolve.
On top of the list is insecurity. It is quite evident that the West African country is constantly facing jihadist attacks and other insecurity forms. Many expect that the new leader would find the ultimate solution to the issue.
Secondly, the concern of human rights abuses. Nigerien government is accused of abuse of power by reducing citizens’ freedoms and privileges. Besides, there have been reports of military executions and mysterious disappearances of individuals.
Lastly, just like most African countries, corruption is thriving in Niger. A concern that the new head of state will have to address.