Nigerien presidential election heads to runoff

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Jan. 2 (UPI) — Niger’s presidential election is heading to a runoff in February after no single candidate managed to secure half of the ballots, elections officials said Saturday.

After the first round of voting, which took place Sunday, former Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum earned 39.33% of the vote and former President Mahamane Ousmane garnered 17%.

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The two will face each other in the runoff scheduled for Feb. 21, the Independent National Electoral Commission said. Bazoum is favored to win the election to replace President Mahamadou Issoufou.

Dozens of candidates ran to replace Issoufou, who’s stepping down after two five-year terms. Former prime ministers Seini Oumarou and Albade Abouba were third and fourth place, respectively, in voting.

In parliamentary elections also held Sunday, Bazoum’s Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism held on as ruling party, securing 80 seats in the 171-seat National Assembly. The opposition Nigerien Democratic Movement for an African Federation won 19 seats.

Bloomberg reported that a coalition of opposition parties, including Ousmane’s, has accused the ruling party of election fraud. Independent observers from the African Union, though, said the election was mostly “satisfactory.”