Tags: AF | Niger | Elections

Niger's Security-minded President Vies for 2nd Term in Vote

Sunday, 21 February 2016 07:11 AM

NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Voting has begun in the West African nation of Niger, where President Mahamadou Issoufou is touting his record of defending the country from Islamic extremists as he vies against 14 other candidates for a second five-year term.

Materials arrived late to some polling stations in the capital Niamey, delaying the 8 a.m. start time. The electoral commission said polling stations would stay open until 7 p.m., though they were due to close one hour earlier in the southeast region of Diffa, a frequent target of attacks by the Nigeria-based militant group Boko Haram.

Niger, one of the world's poorest countries, hosts French forces and American drones to combat the regional extremist threat. Issoufou's supporters say he deserves a second term because of his success in preventing militants from setting up a base in the country, as they have in neighboring Mali.

But Boko Haram has hit Niger's southeast region for more than a year and recent high-profile attacks by al-Qaida's North Africa branch in the capitals of Mali and Burkina Faso have raised fears that Niamey could soon be targeted.

Issoufou's strongest opponents include former prime ministers Seyni Oumarou and Hama Amadou, who finished second and third in the 2011 presidential vote. If no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will head to a runoff.

Amadou has been detained since November for his alleged involvement in a baby-trafficking scheme, a charge he has dismissed as politically motivated. Amadou's detention, along with the recent detentions of politicians, journalists and even a singer who released a song critical of Issoufou, are cited by critics as evidence of Issoufou's desire to silence opponents.

Niger has about 7.5 million voters registered for the elections, in which candidates will also be competing for 171 legislative seats.

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Voting has begun in the West African nation of Niger, where President Mahamadou Issoufou is touting his record of defending the country from Islamic extremists as he vies against 14 other candidates for a second five-year term.Materials arrived late to some polling stations...
AF,Niger,Elections
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2016-11-21
Sunday, 21 February 2016 07:11 AM
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