Niger heads to polls in quest of first democratic transition

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© Reuters. Bazoum stands with members of his delegation on the official presidential residence in Diffa

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By Boureima Balima

NIAMEY (Reuters) – Niger votes in an election on Sunday that’s anticipated to result in the primary switch of energy between two democratically elected presidents in a rustic reeling from Islamist violence.

Former inside minister Mohamed Bazoum, the ruling social gathering’s candidate, is the overwhelming favorite to succeed President Mahamadou Issoufou, who’s stepping down after two five-year phrases main the largely desert nation of 23 million.

Bazoum, 60, has promised continuity with Issoufou’s insurance policies, whereas additionally vowing to scrub up pervasive corruption.

“If I’m fortunate sufficient to win this election, you’ll have chosen somebody who is prepared from day one,” he stated in a marketing campaign video.

Niger faces twin safety crises. It has suffered repeated assaults close to its western borders with Mali and Burkina Faso from militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. Close to its southeastern border with Nigeria it faces assaults from Boko Haram. Lots of of troopers and civilians have been killed within the final 12 months alone.

The financial scenario can also be essential. Greater than 40% of the inhabitants lives in excessive poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed development to a crawl, compounding the results of local weather change and low costs for high export uranium.

Bazoum faces 29 different candidates, who will hope to power a second spherical by denying him an outright majority of the vote.

Hama Amadou, who completed runner-up within the final election, was barred from working due to a legal conviction, leaving the opposition with out an apparent figurehead.

However final week, Amadou’s social gathering known as on its supporters to prove for Mahamane Ousmame, who was president from 1993-1996.

“After my candidate was disqualified, I did not have the motivation to come back out and vote,” stated Ali Hamma, an Amadou supporter. “However with the brand new directions, I’m going to vote.”

A peaceable switch of energy can be a milestone for Niger, which has skilled 4 coups since gaining independence from France in 1960.

It might additionally stand in stark distinction to Ivory Coast and Guinea, whose presidents this 12 months used constitutional adjustments to increase their tenures to a few phrases, elevating fears of a democratic backslide in West Africa.

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