NIAMEY, 27 December 2020 – Some 7.4 citizens are voting in Niger Sunday for the successor of outgoing president Mahamadou Issoufou.
Issoufou is stepping down after serving two five-year terms; the limit set by the constitution.
It would be Niger’s first democratic transfer of power since the West African nation of 23 million inhabitants won independence from France 60 years ago.
The ballot holds in an environment scarred by violence and a breakdown of the rule of law, wrote Sebastien Nadot, a French member of parliament on Twitter Sunday.
A winner needs to win more than 50 percent of the votes cast, otherwise a runoff will be organized opposing the two leading candidates in February 2021.
The favorite to win is Niger’s former minister of interior, Mohamed Bazoum, flag bearer of the ruling party.
Twenty-nine other candidates are also running for Niger’s top job.
They include Mahamane Ousmane, who was president of Niger from 1993 to 1996.
Hama Amadou, who was seen as the most likely opposition candidate to challenge Bazoum, was barred from running by a criminal conviction.
He finished runner-up in the last presidential election against Issoufou.
The economy of landlocked Niger has been hard-hit by the closure of its border with Nigeria – a source of most of the country’s essential goods.
A fall in the price of Niger’s top export product, uranium, has significantly diminished its total export earnings.
Niger’s exports decreased in value from CFA86.59 billion francs in the fourth quarter of 2019 to CFA 84.08 billion francs during the first quarter of 2020, according to data published by the country’s institute of statistics cited by Trading Economics.