Ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum will face former President Mahamane Ousmane in the second round, according to provisional results.
Niger’s ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum will face former President Mahamane Ousmane in the run-off presidential election in February, according to provisional results announced by the electoral commission.
Bazoum, 60, led the first round with 39.33% of the vote, below the 50% plus one needed to win the first round.
Ousmane received 17% of the votes cast, the committee announced on Saturday.
Former prime ministers Seini Oumarou and Albade Abouba respectively came third and fourth with 8.95% and 7.07% of the vote.
The second round should be held on February 21 after the results of the first round have been validated by the Constitutional Court, which will hear the appeals.
Bazoum, who has served as both interior and foreign minister, campaigned on promises of improved security and education and had hoped for victory in the first round.
Bazoum’s Nigerian Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) also led the legislative vote held at the same time with 80 of 165 seats and five diaspora seats yet to be decided.
Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou is resigning after two five-year terms, which should lead to the West African country’s first transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents.
Nearly 7.5 million people voted on Sunday to choose a successor to Issoufou, who in a New Year’s radio speech hailed the election as “another successful page in the democratic history of our country”.
Insecurity has eclipsed the countryside, with Niger defeated by armed groups on its southwest border with Mali as well as on its southeast border with Nigeria.
Five years of violence in the former French colony claimed the lives of hundreds and many more were displaced. Earlier this month, 27 people died in an attack claimed by Boko Haram.
But security is not the only concern of Nigeriens, a country of 23 million people.
The country’s economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic with a drop in the price of its main export uranium.
It has also suffered from the closure of the border with Nigeria, a key gateway for the import of essential products.