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Nigeriens prepare for Sunday's runoff amid political tensions

Nigeriens prepare for Sunday's runoff amid political tensions


Tension is high in Niger as the country prepares for the runoff presidential polls this weekend.

This follows the opposition coalition’s recent announcement that its candidate Hama Amadou will not participate in the polls.

Some residents who have been looking forward to a keen contest between Hama Amadou and incumbent president Mahamadou Issoufou have expressed their disappointment at the turn of events.

“I was disappointed to find out that (the opposition has withdrawn) because these politicians have participated in politics before and they know that in an election there is always a winner and a loser. It would be really disappointing if the opposition was not to participate in the elections,” said Boube Abdou Safiatou, a Niamey resident.

Amadou’s absence in this second round poll, some believe, would increase the chances of Mahamadou Issoufou.

Issoufou who is seeking a second term in office, garnered 48 percent of votes in the first round poll held on February 21.

“If they (opposition) follow through with the threat of not participating in the elections, then it will also mean that they will not recognise whoever wins the elections, especially the future president of Niger who will be elected on March 20, which is something that may lead us into a political impasse,” said Amadou Hassane Boubacar, a political analyst.

Hama Amadou who campaigned from behind bars managed to garner almost 18 percent of the votes in the February 21 poll thwarting the chances of President Issoufou’s first round victory.

Amadou has been in prison since November last year on child trafficking charges, a charge he denies. He was on Wednesday airlifted to France for further medical treatment after his condition reportedly degenerated.

The opposition leader is said to have been sick for sometime now although his medical team has not stated exactly what was wrong with him.