Niger’s opposition candidate, Hama Amadou, has crushed the prediction of President Issoufou Mahamadou announcing a “Knock Out” in the first round of the February 21 presidential elections.
With the announcement of the results of the presidential election indicating the elections needed to go into a run off, there were scenes of jubilation in the opposition areas, according to a local television images.
The reaction of Hama Amadou could not be seen on hearing Friday rerun decision given that he is currently in prison over child trafficking charges, which he strongly denies.
I also salute my adversaries in the first round and congratulate them for the quality of the debate
He would now have to face President Issoufou in a final duel whiles still in prison. It must be noted that he did not need to leave his cell to convince as many as 17.8 percent of voters to vote for him and to push the polls into a run off.
The start of negotiations amongst the opposition bloc is expected to kick start soon and the game of alliances will be more decisive than ever. The losers going into the elections were committed to supporting the best candidate in case of new elections, in this case Hama Amadou.
His followers see him as a political prisoner, a view the government rejects. Political watchers contend that being in prison could also play to his advantage if the opposition stick together to back him in their bid to evict Issoufou from the Presidential Palace.
Following the results, Issoufou congratulated the people of Niger for the peaceful election. “I also salute my adversaries in the first round and congratulate them for the quality of the debate,” he told journalists.
But with 48.4 percent of votes in the first round, the ruling party have not had their last word.
“The truth is that we are extremely favorable position going into the second ballot,” said the Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou.
Together, the opposition parties gained a cumulative vote of about 38 percent, though it was unclear which side had an advantage ahead of the second round or how Amadou would campaign from prison. Turnout was nearly 67 percent, the National Electoral Commission said.
Niger is under threat from Nigeria-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has staged a series of cross-border attacks in the southeastern Diffa region, forcing the government to impose a state of emergency there.