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World Bazoum wins Niger election as clashes erupt

21:49  23 february  2021
21:49  23 february  2021 Source:   afp.com

Two dead in Niger election unrest, opposition figure sought

  Two dead in Niger election unrest, opposition figure sought Two people in Niger have died in post-election violence and hundreds have been arrested, the government said Thursday, accusing a prominent opposition figure of stoking the unrest. He accused a well-known opposition figure, Hama Amadou, of being "the main person responsible" for the unrest."The toll is two dead," Interior Minister Alkache Alhada said, reporting on violence that began on Tuesday after the results of a presidential runoff were announced.

Former interior minister Mohamed Bazoum won Niger's presidential elections, according to provisional results issued on Tuesday, as the opposition cried foul and clashes erupted.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has reported results but they are already contested by the opposition © Issouf SANOGO The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has reported results but they are already contested by the opposition

Speaking to supporters and the press, the ruling party candidate promised to be "the president of all Nigeriens".

Bazoum picked up 55.75 percent of Sunday's runoff vote while his opponent Mahamane Ousmane garnered 44.25 percent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said in provisional results that must still be validated by the Constitutional Court.

The two candidates in Niger's presidential run-off

  The two candidates in Niger's presidential run-off Niger will choose between its outgoing leader's anointed successor and a former president running for the fifth time in a presidential election runoff on Sunday. A stalwart known as the "Maradona of politics," he has contested every election since -- this time marks his fifth attempt to regain the presidency. But the 71-year-old is running from behind, after getting just 16.98 percent in the first round in a packed field of 30 candidates.More than 10 of those opposition candidates have rallied behind him for the second round, hoping to build up enough support for an upset.

map: Niger © Kun TIAN Niger

CENI put the turnout at almost 63 percent.

The elections have been showcased as the first democratic transition in the history of the coup-prone Sahel state, which is also battling extreme poverty and two bloody jihadist insurgencies.

a person with smoke coming out of it: Police fired tear gas in clashes with opposition supporters after the results were announced © Issouf SANOGO Police fired tear gas in clashes with opposition supporters after the results were announced

But shortly before the results were announced, Ousmane's campaign blasted the runoff as an "electoral holdup" and urged the public to "mobilise" against it.

"The results that are being published are in many cases not in line with the expression of the people's will," said campaign manager Falke Bacharou.

"(Outgoing President Mahamadou) Issoufou and his side persist in defying the sovereign people of Niger," Bacharou said as excited supporters shouted "changji," or "change" in Hausa.

Presidential election in Niger: 7.4 million voters called to the polls for the second round

 Presidential election in Niger: 7.4 million voters called to the polls for the second round © Issouf Sanago, AFP Members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) of Niger prepare the ballot boxes and electoral material in Niamey, on February 20, 2021. Some 7.4 million Nigerien voters are called, Sunday February 21, to vote in the second round of a presidential election which opposes the candidate of power, the former minister Mohamed Bazoum, largely victorious in the first round, and former president Mahamane Ousmane.

In his victory speech, Bazoum praised the "wisdom" of Ousmane -- a former president deposed by a coup in the 1990s -- and said he wanted to "count on him" in future.

a man in a blue shirt: Niger's Mohamed Bazoum celebrates presidential election victory © Adrien BARBIER Niger's Mohamed Bazoum celebrates presidential election victory

But opposition followers armed with sticks gathered near where he spoke, at the headquarters of the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) in Niamey.

They set fire to tyres as police fired teargas, an AFP photographer saw.

A local journalist in the southern city of Zinder, the second largest in the country, said that protests also broke out there.

- Political veterans -

Issoufou is voluntarily stepping down after two five-year terms, opening the way to Niger's first handover of power between elected leaders since independence from France in 1960.

Mohamed Bazoum sitting on a table: Mohamed Bazoum faces huge challenges as president of Niger, including two jihadist insurgencies © Issouf SANOGO Mohamed Bazoum faces huge challenges as president of Niger, including two jihadist insurgencies

Bazoum, 60, co-founder with Issoufou of the PNDS, picked up just over 39 percent of the vote in the first round on December 27.

Niger opposition figure accused in unrest turns himself in

  Niger opposition figure accused in unrest turns himself in Leading Niger opposition figure Hama Amadou, accused by the government of stoking unrest following the release of presidential election results, turned himself in to police in the capital Niamey on Friday, one of his aides said. But a member of Amadou's entourage told AFP on Friday that "he turned himself in this morning to the judicial police with his lawyer, and they are currently in a meeting."The West African country has been shaken by violence since it was announced on Tuesday that ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum won the weekend's runoff vote by 55.75 percent to opposition candidate Mahamane Ousmane's 44.25 percent.

He campaigned on continuity with the previous government, which promised development while facing the world's highest birthrate -- an average of seven children per woman.

Ousmane, 71, became the country's first democratically elected president in 1993, only to be toppled in a coup three years later.

This was his fifth attempt at gaining the presidency since his ouster.

He won just under 17 percent in the first round but gained pledges of support from a coalition of 18 opposition parties in the days before the runoff.

The opposition's most formidable candidate, Hama Amadou, was banned from running because of a conviction for baby trafficking -- a charge he slammed as politically motivated.

- Poverty and jihadists -

The world's poorest nation according to the UN's development rankings for 189 countries, Niger is also struggling with jihadist insurgencies that have spilled over from Mali in the west and Nigeria in the southeast.

Hundreds of lives have been lost, 460,000 people have fled their homes, and devastating damage has been inflicted on an already struggling economy.

On polling day, seven local workers with CENI were killed when their vehicle hit a land mine in the western region of Tillaberi.

On Monday, a similar device claimed the life of a polling station head in the southeastern region of Diffa. Nine other electoral workers were injured.

Bazoum on Tuesday acknowledged the "urgency and scale of the challenge that is the fight against terrorism".

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Violence between young people. The government is going to make a history and a cartography of the clashes .
© Archives Two young people died last week after brawls in Essonne. A large meeting involving several ministries and prefects will be held on Monday at the request of Gérald Darmanin who reactivated the plan to combat gangs the day before. The ministers of Interior , Justice and Education meet Monday March 1, 2021 with prefects, prosecutors and rectors of Ile-de-France to respond to the phenomenon of brawls between young people, who have bereaved the Paris region last week.

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