Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou won a second term with 92.5 percent of the vote in a run-off election that the opposition coalition chose to boycott, the electoral commission said on Tuesday. Issoufou, an ally of the West in its fight against Islamist insurgents in West Africa, won the first round comfortably last month with 48 percent of votes but failed to clinch the outright majority required to avoid a second round. The candidate who came second, opposition leader Hama Amadou, has been in jail since November on charges relating to a baby-trafficking scandal, but was flown to France for medical treatment last week. Amadou says he is innocent and claims the charges against him are politically motivated.
Niger opposition parties have rejected the final round of the country’s presidential and legislative elections that took place on Sunday citing fraud. Niger’s electoral commission released results on Tuesday showing that President Mahamadou Issoufou received more than 92 percent of the runoff vote. His rival Hama Amadou received less than 8 percent of the vote, which saw a low turnout after the opposition called for a boycott. The candidates from the opposition parties in a statement have challenged any attempts by the incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou to claim victory. They have also accused the government of voter intimidation and warned of false results.
Opposition parties in Niger on Tuesday rejected initial results from Sunday’s presidential election that showed incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou in the lead, calling them fraudulent. Provisional results from 20 of the West African country’s 308 municipalities gave Issoufou 40.18 percent of the vote, more than 10 percentage points ahead of his closest rival. “These results are completely contrary to what was expressed at the ballot box,” said Amadou Boubacar Cisse, an election candidate and spokesman for the Coalition for Change group of opposition parties.
Counting has begun in Niger’s presidential and legislative elections after the polls closed Sunday. The results are not expected until sometime next week. Mahamadou Issoufou is running for a second five-year term with a promise to crush Islamist militants and develop one of the poorest countries in the world. “I hope that these elections proceed calmly and peacefully,” he had said. “In any case, there will only be one winner, and that is Niger.”
Hama Amadou, a major opposition figure approved to stand in Niger’s February elections just two days ago, failed on Monday in an attempt to gain release from prison in a plea to the country’s appeals court. President Mahamadou Issoufou, a key Western ally in the fight against Islamist militancy in the fragile Sahara region, is expected to win a second term; but critics accuse him of becoming increasingly authoritarian, especially after uncovering what he described as an aborted coup in December. Amadou, a one-time ally to the president, was jailed in November for alleged complicity in a baby trafficking ring upon return from a year-long exile. He has publicly denied the charges, which he says are politically motivated.