The former interior minister of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, has won the presidential election in the West African country, according to preliminary results. Bazoum received almost 56 percent of the vote in the election on Sunday, while his rival Mahamane Ousmane got a good 44 percent, said the electoral authority Ceni. The result has yet to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court. According to the electoral authority, almost 63 percent of eligible voters cast their votes.
In his victory speech in front of the seat of the ruling party PNDS in Niamey, Bazoum announced that he would be the “President of all Nigerians”. The 60-year-old was traded as the favorite of the polls at the weekend. He is a close confidante of the previous head of state Mahamadou Issoufou.
The speech was overshadowed by protests by the opposition, as a photographer from the AFP news agency reported. Some of the protesters set tires on fire. The police responded by using tear gas. A journalist also reported on protests in the second largest city of Zinder.
Even before the preliminary results were announced, opposition candidate Ousmane’s campaign team had called on his supporters to “mobilize” against the outcome of the election. “The results that are published are often not in line with the expressed will of the population,” said the campaign manager Falke Bacharou to supporters of Ousmanes.
The election on Sunday was supposed to usher in the first democratic change of power in the history of Niger. According to the United Nations, the poorest country in the world is suffering from the violence of Islamist groups from neighboring countries Mali and Nigeria. On election day, seven election officials in the Tillaberi region of western Niger were killed when their vehicle hit a land mine. In an explosion on Monday, the head of a polling station in Diffa was killed and nine poll workers were injured.
The choice is important not only for Niger, but also for the region and the neighboring continent of Europe. Niger is one of the most important transit countries for African migrants who want to reach the Mediterranean. In recent years, Europe had put pressure on the Nigerien government to curb people smuggling.