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State of emergency extended in Niger's Diffa region

State of emergency extended in Niger's Diffa region

Niger

As Niger prepares for the first round of its presidential and legislative elections in February, the state of emergency in the border town of Diffa has been extended.

The first round of presidential and legislative elections are scheduled to come off on February 21.

Campaigning for the polls opens at midnight this Saturday and closes on the eve of the polls.

The army in the Diffa area has been fighting incursions by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram for over a year, according to a statement from the Council of Ministers read on state television.

Nigerien officials have justified the extension of the state of emergency which comes in the wake of the electioneering period.

“The security situation in Diffa requires the maintenance of a suitable legal regime” which the statement noted is catered for by the state of emergency stressing the need to preserve the tranquility and safety of persons and property.

As part of the new measures, security forces will have additional powers to conduct day and night home searches.

This will be the second time since October 2015 that the state of emergency has been extended.

The Nigerien Parliament on October 29 2015 extended the state of emergency by three months – up to January 26, 2016 – following persistent attacks by Nigerian rebels.

At least six Nigerien soldiers were killed in mid-January by an explosion at a mine. The United Nations has recorded 74 attacks involving Boko Haram fighters and Nigerien army personnel in the area.

The February 21 polls to be held in the West African nation will be the first election on the continent in 2016.

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