Fri, 05 Mar 2021

NIAMEY, Niger, February 21: Voters went to the polls on the weekend in the second round of presidential elections, promising the country's first peaceful transfer of power.

Mohamed Bazoum, the ruling party candidate, is expected to defeat former President Mahamane Ousmane.

In the first round of elections on December 27, Bazoum received 39 percent of the vote, while Ousmane's vote total reached 17 percent.

Bazoum, a former interior and foreign minister, is now backed by the candidates who came in third and fourth in December voting.

The 71 year-old Ousmane was Niger's first democratically elected president, but was deposed during a 1996 military coup.

There have been four military coups since Niger, a former French colony, gained independence in 1960.

The 61 year-old Bazoum has said he would continue Issoufou's policies, seeking to boost the economy, even as Niger battles insurgents.

Hundreds have been killed by Boko Haram along Niger's western border, as well as by al Qaeda and Islamic State militants, who have murdered civilians.

Niger is one of the world's poorest countries, which currently is battling droughts, coronavirus and weak prices for the minerals it exports.

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