Niger President Faces Run-off in ElectionFebruary 29, 2016 in Niger
According to provisional results that were released on Friday 26 February, incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou fell short of an outright majority in the 21 February election, effectively meaning that he now faces a run-off against jailed opposition leader Hama Amadou. Issoufou will bid for a second term on 20 March.
His opponent, a former prime minister, came in second with 17.8 percent compared to Issoufou’s 48.4 percent. The National Electoral Commission has disclosed that turnout was nearly 67 percent. Amadou has been in prison since November 2015 on charges relating to baby-trafficking. He has maintained that he is innocent and a victim of political repression. Critics have reported that Amadou’s imprisonment is part of a crackdown by the Nigerien government over the election season. The government however has stated that it respects the law and that such criticisms are politically motivated.
Following the announcement of the election results, Issoufou congratulated the people of Niger for the peaceful election. Speaking to journalists, he stated, “I also salute my adversaries in the first round and congratulate them for the quality of the debate.”
A coalition of four parties agreed before the election to back the candidate that came second in a bid to defeat Issoufou. Those parties gained a cumulative vote of about 38 percent, through it was unclear which side had an advantage ahead of the second round or how Amadou would campaign from prison.