Niger, the world’s sixth-biggest uranium producer, will hold a runoff presidential election next month after none of the 10 candidates received enough votes for a first-round win this week.
The March 12 follow-up will pit Mahamadou Issoufou of the Parti Nigerien pour la Democratie et le Socialisme, who won 36.1 percent of votes, against Seini Oumarou, the candidate of ex- President Mamadou Tandja’s party, who won 23.2 percent, Abdourahamane Ghousmane, chairman of the country’s electoral commission, said in Niamey, the capital, today.
“These elections constitute a significant step towards the restoration of constitutional order,” regional body African Union said in an e-mailed statement today. Spokesmen for the two parties said they wouldn’t contest any of the first-round results.
The ballot is a key part of restoring civilian-led rule following the February 2010 ouster by the country’s military of Tandja, who attempted to change the constitution and abolish presidential term limits.
Issoufou’s PNDS, which opposes Tandja, won 39 seats. Four other parties that are against the former leader took 40, giving the bloc a majority in the 113-seat Parliament, the commission said. Tandja’s Mouvement National pour la Societe de Developpement and two allies form the remainder. The vote was also held Jan. 31.
Issoufou, a 58-year-old French-trained mining engineer, was a prime minister under Tandja. He formed an alliance on Jan. 25 with Hama Amadou, who came third with 19.8 percent of the vote, and five other opposition contenders to unite behind a single candidate in the runoff.
“We are in negotiations” with Amadou and the other parties for second-round support, Zarama Abba Kiari, spokesman for Issoufou’s PNDS, said today.
Landlocked Niger is among the world’s poorest countries. Hard hit by famine in 2009 and 2010, it ranks below only Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo on the United Nations’ Human Development Index.
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