Niger’s presidential election set for February runoff 0

Niger’s ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum will face former president Mahamane Ousmane in a presidential election runoff in February, according to provisional results of the first round of the contest announced by the electoral commission on Saturday.

Bazoum led the first round with 39.33% of the vote, falling short of the 50% needed to win outright in the first round. Ousmane received 17% of the vote, the commission said.

The second round is expected to be held on Feb. 21 after the results of the first round have been validated by the constitutional court which will hear any appeals.

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms, which is expected to lead to Niger’s first transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents.

The incoming president will inherit several challenges, including rising violence from Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. Attacks near the western border with Mali and Burkina Faso and the southeastern border with Nigeria killed hundreds of people last year.

Provisional results of the legislative election showed the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism leading with 80 seats. The main opposition MODEN/FA-Lumana was second with 19 seats in the 171-seat house.