Protests erupted in Niger on Tuesday with tyres set alight and reported clashes with police after the country’s monumental election result named ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum the winner, AfricaNews reports.
Bazoum, a 61-year-old former interior minister, won just over 55% of the vote in Sunday’s election run-off, according to the electoral commission. He beat Mahamane Ousmane, 71, a former president who was toppled by a coup in 1996, who took 44% of the vote.
Mr Bazoum, 61, was the candidate for the governing party in Sunday’s second-round run-off vote. He is set to succeed President Mahamdou Issoufou, who is stepping down after two five-year terms. The provisional results must still be confirmed by the constitutional court.
Supporters of Ousmane took to the streets of the capital Niamey and gathered at the headquarters of the ruling party but were quickly dispersed by police who fired teargas, according to reports. Ousmane’s campaign alleged fraud before the results were declared and said there had been theft, ballot-box stuffing and threats against voters, without providing evidence.
The electoral commission has yet to comment on the accusations of irregularities. Voter turnout was pegged at 62.91%, according to the electoral commission.
The vote is supposed to usher in Niger’s first transition from one democratically elected leader to another after President Mahamadou Issoufou announced he was stepping down after two five-year terms. Niger has been marred by coups since the country’s independence from France in 1960.
Bazoum thanked voters on Twitter after the result was announced that he would be a “loyal servant to confront all the problems our country is facing.”
It is currently affected by a spillover of violence from two jihadist insurgencies in neighbouring Mali and Nigeria. Niger is also the world’s poorest nation according to the UN’s development rankings for 189 countries.