Nigeriens voted Sunday for a presidential election which should mark the first democratic transition between two elected presidents in this poor Sahelian country, accustomed to coups d’état and plagued by recurrent jihadist attacks.
“Whoever wins, the victory will belong to the Nigerien people. It is a special day for Niger which will experience for the first time in its history a democratic alternation, ”underlined outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou after having voted at Niamey town hall.
Results in several days
7.4 million voters were called to the polls (out of 23 million inhabitants). The results will not be known for several days.
Mahamadou Issoufou, 68, does not stand for re-election after his two constitutional terms, unlike many African heads of state who cling to power. This will be the first time that two elected presidents have succeeded each other in this country with a history of coups d’état since its independence in 1960.
Former opponent, Mahamadou Issoufou recalled that it was the first election in his country in which he had not participated for 30 years. After ten years in power, he hopes to pass the baton to his right-hand man Mohamed Bazoum, 60, a big favorite in the poll, for whom a total of 30 candidates are in the running.
“I ask the activists to come out even more numerous to ensure our victory, as (for the municipal and regional elections) on December 13,” said the former Minister of the Interior, who aims for success from the first round to this presidential election coupled with legislative elections.
Mohamed Bazoum, who benefits from the electoral machine of his party and the state, has promised to focus on security and education, especially for young girls, in this country which holds the world fertility record (7 , 6 children per woman).
“A one-round election is not possible”
“A one-round election is not possible. They (the people in power) know very well that the state of health of their party and the level of frustration of Nigeriens prevent any prospect of “knocking out”. There will be a second round ”on February 20, 2021, former Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yacouba told AFP by telephone after having voted in his village of Birnin-Lokoyo (South-West).
“This campaign has been massively corrupted by ruling party money. I am very concerned because this corrupt process can impact the results and undermine the honesty of the ballot, ”he denounced.
At the office of the Cité Député school, a popular district of Niamey, hundreds of women lined up to vote. In some offices, people organized to prevent men and women from queuing together.