Polling stations in Niger closed on Sunday evening after a long election day when nearly seven and a half million voters were invited to the second round of the presidential election.
Voters hope the runoff will result in a peaceful rotation of power in the country known for decades of military coups.
The ruling party’s candidate, Mohamed Bazoum, is believed to be the favorite to win the race after the results of the first round of voting of more than 39 percent were released. Bazoum, a former minister of interior and foreign affairs, comes from the Awlad Suleiman Arab tribe, whose branch lives in Niger, while most of them are mainly concentrated in southern and central Libya.
Bazoum, who is supported by the outgoing President Mohamed Issoufou, will meet the country’s former President, Muhammad Othman, who received 17 percent of the vote in the first round of the election.
Bazoum promised to continue the approach of his predecessor Issoufou and focus on supporting and developing the army’s capabilities and improving security in the face of the turbulent security situation in the Sahel.
ISIS and Boko Haram carried out their bloodiest attacks in Niger this year, where most of the government spending is used for security.
Seven people were killed and others wounded in a mine explosion that targeted an electoral commission vehicle.
And local media said the incident took place in a remote area in the south of the country and was most likely the result of a terrorist attack that, related to the polls, was supposed to cause chaos and unrest.
The opposition candidate questioned Bazoum’s candidacy, questioning his gender and Nigerian identity as his tribal roots were rooted in southern Libya. These statements were widely condemned, and activists and broad sectors of the Nigerian street viewed them as “racial discrimination” of incitement to the Arab minority in Niger.
Relying on the street’s desire for change, the opposition candidate stresses that the ruling party’s candidate is a continuation of the former president’s regime who ruled the country for ten years and says he is confident of winning, which is a big surprise could represent in the former French colony and current ally of France and the United States of America in the war on terror.
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