Niger ruling party candidate clings to narrow lead in presidential run-off

FILE PHOTO: Niger's Mohamed Bazoum pictured Sept 14, 2013
FILE PHOTO: Mohamed Bazoum sits at his pollitical party headquarters in Niamey, September 14, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney

February 22, 2021

DAKAR (Reuters) – Niger’s ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum was slightly ahead of his challenger on Monday as vote-counting continued in the West African nation’s presidential run-off, electoral commission data from nearly a quarter of constituencies showed.

With 62 out of a total 266 constituencies counted, provisional results showed former interior minister Bazoum ahead of his challenger, former president Mahamane Ousmane, with 51.49% of the vote, a lead that had narrowed from earlier in the day.

The run-off vote, meant to usher in Niger’s first transition of power from one democratically elected leader to another, was held on Sunday after neither candidate secured a majority in the first round in December.

Voting was marred by the death of seven election workers after their vehicle hit a landmine on Sunday, underscoring a fraught security climate as a result of Islamist insurgencies.

One of the world’s poorest nations, Niger has also struggled with drought, floods, coronavirus and weak prices for its main export, uranium.

(Reporting by Bate Felix and Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Catherine Evans and Giles Elgood)