Niger Republic, yesterday, voted in presidential and legislative elections that could see the country’s first democratic transition of power since independence, amid a growing threat from jihadists in the region.
Some 7.4 million Nigeriens voted to elect legislators and the successor to President Mahamadou Issoufou. Polls opened with a good turnout. If no one candidate wins more than 50%, Nigeriens will vote in a second round on February 21.
“Equipment was well installed and the first voter was able to vote,” just after 8am at the Diori school in Niamey, according to the head of the polling station there, Khadija Hassan. “Everything has been going normally.” Other voting centres in the capital reported successful openings as well, with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Issoufou, who has served two terms, is stepping down, paving the way for the first peaceful transfer of power between two elected presidents since Niger became independent from France in 1960. Niger has seen four coups since then.
Issoufou voted yesterday with his wife and the president of the National Assembly. He said he hopes the election “will allow Niger to consolidate its status as a model of democracy in Africa and in the world.”