Bazoum declared winner of Niger's presidential election, opponent alleges fraud

Boureima Balima
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Niger's Mohamed Bazoum pictured Sept 14, 2013

By Boureima Balima

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger's ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum was declared on Tuesday the winner of its presidential election, while his opponent alleged fraud and opposition supporters burned tyres in the streets.

Bazoum, a 61-year-old former interior minister, won 55.75% of the vote in Sunday's election, according to the electoral commission. He beat out Mahamane Ousmane, a former president who was toppled by a coup in 1996. The provisional results must still be confirmed by the constitutional court.

The election is meant to usher in Niger's first transition from one democratically elected leader to another, with President Mahamadou Issoufou stepping down after two five-year terms.

Shortly before the results were declared, Ousmane's campaign alleged widespread fraud, including the theft and stuffing of ballot boxes and threats against voters. It did not provide any evidence.

"We demand the immediate suspension of the publication of these results, which do not in any way take into account the expressed will of the Nigerien people for change," Ousmane's campaign manager said in a statement.

Outside Ousmane's campaign headquarters and in other parts of the capital Niamey, his supporters protested by burning tyres. Police fired tear gas to disperse them.

The electoral commission has not yet commented on the allegations of irregularities.

The vote was also marred by two attacks that killed eight people in two regions of the country where Islamist militants are active, commission president Issaka Souna said.

Seven of the victims were election workers in the western Tillabery region, near the border with Mali, whose vehicle struck a landmine as they headed to the polls.

(Reporting by Boureima Balima in Niamey; Additional reporting by Bate Felix and Nellie Peyton; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Giles Elgood and Peter Graff)