Niger junta says poll went on without a hitch

Campaign posters of former Niger prime minister and presidential candidate Hama Amadou Photo/BBC 

Niger’s electoral commission has announced that it will begin announcing the provisional results of the combined presidential and legislative polls by Wednesday.

Election observers and Niger’s junta have expressed satisfaction over the impressive turnout of voters to elect a new president.

Besides the new president, the voters also cast their ballots to elect 113 members of the country’s parliament after a successful local election nearly two weeks ago.

Both international and local election observers as well as the electoral commission conceded that there was no significant disruption to the process.

The electoral commission pegged the turnout at Sunday’s polls at about 50 percent of the 6.7 million voters with rural women making up the bulk of those that cast their ballots.

In Niamey, the capital, the commission said about 35 percent of eligible voters went to the polls “in absolute calm and tranquility,” according to Niger’s State-controlled television.

“The entire process went on very well and I am sure that everyone is satisfied as we look forward soon to install the future leaders of our country,” the Premier of the interim government Mahamadou Dandah told reporters.

Potentially formidable

Vote counting commenced immediately following the closure of the polling stations on Sunday night throughout the country amidst a few protests over vote rigging in the remote northern regions of Maradi and Diffa.

Ten presidential candidates vied in the election and among them three frontrunners. Two are former prime ministers under the ousted President Mamadou Tandja: Seini Oumarou and Hama Amadou.

The third and potentially most formidable candidate is the popular opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou of the Social Democratic Party which won the local elections nearly two weeks ago.

Many analysts predict the election will go to a second round as chances any candidate winning an outright 50 per cent and above are not high.

The military junta overthrew former president Tandja in February 2010 after he fiddled with the constitution to allow an extension of tenure beyond the set two terms.

He has been under house arrest until last month when he was transferred to a civilian jail outside the capital awaiting trial for financial embezzlement.

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