Niger Opposition Announces Withdrawal from Second Round of Voting in Presidential ElectionMarch 10, 2016 in Niger
On Tuesday 8 March, Niger’s opposition coalition disclosed that its jailed candidate Hama Amadou will boycott the run-off race against incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou.
In a dramatic announcement on Tuesday, the opposition’s Seini Oumarou disclosed that “the political opposition untied by COPA 2016 has decided to withdraw from the electoral process under way (and) demand that its representatives withdraw from (national electoral commission) CENI.” Oumarou further complained of “unfair treatment between the two candidates.” He also stated that “there has been no official announcement by the Constitutional Court of the final results of the first round,” adding that the duration of the second-round campaign has been cut from 21 to 10 days in violation of the constitution. The announcement comes as the government has insisted that it will press ahead with the ballot, which is expected to hand the incumbent a second term in office.
During the first round of voting on 21 February, Issoufou, 64, won 48.43 percent of the vote, while his nearest challenger, Amadou, who has been in prison since November 2015 on shadowy baby-trafficking charges that he maintains were concocted, took 17.73 percent. Amadou was forced to campaign from behind bars during the first round and the Court of Cassation must rule on whether to go ahead with his trial, which is due to occur on 23 March, three days after the run-off ballot in the country. The opposition coalition COPA 2016 has accused the government of fraud in the first round, and the official final results of the election have not been announced. A cabinet statement, which was read on state television late on Monday, indicated that the Constitutional Court was holding back the definitive first-round results. The government maintains that the election was “free and transparent,” while the African Union (AU), which sent observers, disclosed that it was generally satisfied with the organization of the vote, despite logistical glitches and delays. While there has so far been no comment from the electoral commission, the government has insisted that the second round would go ahead despite the opposition’s withdrawal. The second-round of voting is due to take place on 20 March.