NIAMEY, Niger (AP) – Niger’s electorate is voting Sunday in the second round of the country’s presidential elections, after none of the 28 candidates won an absolute majority in the December elections.
Former foreign minister Mohamed Bazoum, who obtained about 39% of the votes in the first round, is running against former President Mahamane Ousmane, who obtained almost 17% of the votes, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The winner of Sunday’s vote will succeed President Mahamadou Issoufou, who is leaving office after serving two terms as outlined in Niger’s constitution. Issoufou’s decision to abide by the constitution has been highly praised and paves the way for the country’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from France in 1960. The West African country has undergone four coups d’état .
After voting in the capital’s Niamey Municipality, Issoufou told reporters that he was proud of Nigerians for their political maturity and for setting a strong democratic example.
“I am proud to be the first democratically elected president in our history to transfer power to another democratically elected president. It is an important event in the political life of our country ”, commented Issoufou.
Issoufou’s chosen successor is Bazoum, 71, a cabinet minister who is part of Niger’s small Arab ethnic minority. After voting, Bazoum said he spent several weeks in the interior of the country visiting villages in the hope that the vote « will take place in a calm, quiet and friendly environment, » he said.