Historic presidential poll holds in Niger Republic today


By Abba Gwale

The people of the Republic of the Niger are voting a new President in a runoff election set to mark the first-ever transfer of power through the ballot box in the country.

Unlike the first round where 28 different candidates contested, the second phase of the poll will be contested between two strong candidates: Mahaman Ousmane of RDR party and Bazum Muhammad from ruling party, PNDS.

In his campaign this week, the RDR candidate, Mahaman Ousmane, said he will be the winner of the second round of the election that will be held on Sunday.

Also, Bazoum Mahamad, the ruling party’s candidate who is in a poll position to win the election according to country’s political analysts, said he will immediately take bold steps especially on security and education when declared winner after Sunday’s election.

Mohamed Bazoum, an ally of incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou, received 39% of the votes in the first round that fielded 30 candidates. He now faces a single opponent, Mahamane Ousmane, who was president from 1993 to 1996. Ousmane, who attracted 17% support in the Dec. 27 vote, is boosted by a coalition of opposition parties.

Bazoum, a former interior minister who has pledged to continue Issoufou’s policies, is the most likely winner, according to the country’s political analysts.

Issoufou, 69, is stepping down after serving the two terms allowed by the constitution of the country that has been rocked by political unrest, including four coups since it got independence from France in 1960.

The election is coming at a time when the country is struggling with insecurity especially on country’s border with Nigeria from south-east and its border with Mali.

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