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Niger votes in presidential runoff to usher in first democratic transition By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Niger’s Mohamed Bazoum pictured in Sept 14, 2013.

By Boureima Balima

NIAMEY (Reuters) – Niger started voting on Sunday within the second spherical of a presidential election that’s anticipated to usher within the first democratic transition of energy for the reason that West African nation gained independence from France in 1960.

Ruling get together candidate Mohamed Bazoum is seen by many because the favorite after main within the first spherical on Dec. 27 with 39.3% of the vote. He’s up in opposition to former President Mahamane Ousmane, who scored 17%.

Bazoum, a 61-year-old politician who had held a number of high positions in outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou’s governments together with the overseas and inside ministries, is backed by the candidates who got here third and fourth within the first spherical.

Bazoum has vowed to proceed Issoufou’s insurance policies, making safety a focus because the nation battles insurgencies, whereas introducing insurance policies to revamp the economic system.

Ousmane, 71, was Niger’s first democratically elected president and was ousted in a 1996 army coup. He has been endorsed by round a dozen smaller events and candidates of the primary spherical. He has promised to deliver change and deal with corruption.

The primary vote was solid at a polling station within the capital Niamey about half an hour after the official 8 a.m. (0700 GMT) begin of voting.

The Sahel nation of round 24 million is without doubt one of the poorest on the planet and struggles with recurring drought and damaging floods. The coronavirus pandemic has weighed on its economic system, whereas weak costs for its primary export, uranium, have hit revenues.

The Worldwide Financial Fund expects Niger’s economic system to rebound to pre-pandemic ranges, with progress of over 6% this yr after dipping by 1.2% in 2020.

“Continuity is best,” mentioned Boukari Hassane, a 42 year-old civil servant who added that he would love Bazoum to finish improvement programmes began beneath Issoufou.

Niamey-based political analyst Elhadj Idi Abou mentioned that the result of the vote was not determined and turnout was anticipated to be excessive given the practically 70% turnout within the first spherical.

The selection was between continuity with Bazoum, or change with Ousmane, he added.

“For me there is no such thing as a favorite as a result of this poll is essentially the most open and the result doesn’t rely on alliances however on the residents. Each candidates have the identical probabilities,” Abou mentioned.

Niger is going through two of Africa’s deadliest insurgencies – one close to its western border with Mali and Burkina Faso, the place militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have carried out a collection of assaults. An assault on two villages in early January close to the border with Mali killed 100.

Alongside its southeastern border with Nigeria assaults by Boko Haram have killed tons of and displaced hundreds.

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