Outgoing Niger president’s right-hand man ahead in partial results

NIAMEY (AFP) – Former minister Mohamed Bazoum was comfortably ahead in Niger’s weekend presidential election held against the backdrop of extremist violence, partial results showed on Wednesday.

Bazoum, the designated successor of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou, garnered more than half a million in a first batch of 1.2 million ballots, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said.

Around 7.4 million people were registered to vote in the presidential ballot last Sunday, which coincided with legislative polls.

The first batch of ballots represents about one-third of the poor West African country’s villages and municipalities.

Bazoum’s closest rival among 29 other contenders is former president Mahamane Ousmane with 168,000 votes, CENI said.

Campaigning was overshadowed by insecurity, with Niger battered by extremists on its southwestern border with Mali as well as its southeastern frontier with Nigeria.

Niger’s former minister Mohamed Bazoum. PHOTO: AFP