NIAMEY: Niger will select between two heavyweights in a presidential run-off vote on Sunday set to convey in regards to the first democratic transition of energy within the coup-prone nation’s historical past.
Niger is the world’s poorest nation, in keeping with the UN’s benchmark of growth of 189 international locations, and is fighting jihadist insurgencies which have spilled over from Mali and Nigeria.
Solely 7.four million of the nation’s 22 million inhabitants are eligible to vote on Sunday — the remainder are under-age.
1000’s of troopers might be deployed throughout the nation for the vote, which is on monitor to usher in a peaceable handover between elected presidents, its first since independence from France in 1960.
Outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou’s determination to voluntarily step down after two five-year phrases was welcomed in a area the place many leaders have tried to cling on to energy.
His successor will both be his right-hand man and anointed successor Mohamed Bazoum or Mahamane Ousmane, who grew to become the nation’s first democratically- elected president in 1993, solely to be toppled in a coup three years later.
Ousmane, 71, is working for president for the fifth time since his ouster.
Each candidates are stalwarts of Niger’s political scene.
Successful votes alone has not all the time led to energy in Niger — there have been 4 navy coups and 6 elections since independence.
However political alliances will loom giant on Sunday, when Bazoum would be the robust favorite after profitable 39.three % of the primary spherical vote on December 27.
The 60-year-old former inside minister has already sealed the help of the candidates who got here third and fourth within the first spherical.
“Bazoum has a coalition that’s anticipated to win if the voting directions of the events which help him are revered by their activists,” mentioned Ibrahim Yahya Ibrahim of the Worldwide Disaster Group (ICG) thinktank.
However, he cautioned, it was “very removed from being gained”.
Ousmane took almost 17 % within the first spherical.
He can rely on the help of a coalition of 18 opposition events referred to as Cap 20-21 in addition to Hama Amadou, who had beforehand been regarded as probably the most formidable candidate towards Bazoum.
Amadou was dominated out from working resulting from a jail sentence for child trafficking which he has slammed as politically motivated.
The opposition filed an unsuccessful enchantment towards the results of the primary spherical, claiming fraud.
A diplomatic supply, talking on situation of anonymity, mentioned the priority was not a lot “unfair practices” however the ruling get together’s imposing electoral machine.
The elections “aren’t excellent, at the least they’re elections”, the supply mentioned.
Bazoum has campaigned on continuity with the earlier regime, which has promised growth in a rustic fighting the best birthrate on the earth — a median of seven kids per lady.
“To soak up this inhabitants development would take unbelievable financial development,” a Western diplomatic supply mentioned.
An immense safety problem additionally awaits whoever emerges as victor.
A brutal jihadist insurgency is intensifying within the nation’s west, whereas Islamist militants from the Nigerian motion Boko Haram wage incessant assaults within the southeast.
Like its Sahel neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger is more and more struggling to manage.
Lots of of troops have been killed and a whole lot of hundreds of individuals have fled their houses.
Polling stations might be open from eight am to 7pm (0700-1800 GMT).

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