Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Niger: Opposition leader Issoufou wins run-off

Niger's electoral commission has announced that opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou has won the second round of presidential elections by almost 58 per cent, defeating National Movement for the Society of Development (MNSD)candidate Seini Oumarou.

In the past two presidential elections, Issoufou has been defeated by former president Mamadou Tandja, who was ousted by the military about a year ago. But this time round Social Democratic Party leader Issoufou was the favourite to win the run-off, having led the first round of voting in January.

Around 2000 observers from the EU, the US, the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union (AU) said the election process had been fair and without major incident. The AU issued a statement saying it commended Niger for the “transparency and fairness of the March 12th elections” and called on the “two candidates to respect the results of polls".

Chairman of Niger's electoral commission, Ghousmane Abdourahamane, said about 3.3 million people had voted, accounting for a mere 48 per cent of the population. Experts say that many are skeptical about the country's political life after years of strife and turmoil.

A civilian president is expected to be installed by 6th April. Issoufou, former director at Areva's Nigerien operations, was prime minister from 1993-4 and was jailed in 2009 after calling for a demonstration to protest Tandja's attempts to extend his rule.

Sources: Reuters, Business Day, BBC News

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