By Paul Ejime
Niger’s 7.4 million registered voters return to the polls in a Presidential run-off on Sunday to elect a president between the two frontrunners from the December 27 inconclusive elections.
Former foreign minister Mohamed Bazoum, 61, received about 40% of the votes in the first round against 16.9% by second placed former President Mahamane Ousmane, 71.
The second round became inevitable because none of the 30 candidates in the first round got more than 50% votes required by the constitution to win the presidency.
Although Bazoum is expected to win Sunday’s poll, he has his job cut out for him in the politically restive former French colony with an estimated 24 million population.
Niger is rich in uranium, but is the world’s poorest nation, according to the UN Human Development ranking. Proceeds from the precious gem is used to provide energy in France, while the vast majority of Niger citizens lack access to power supply.
The West African country is notorious for political instability including military coups. It currently endures crises related to climate change and insecurity from militant groups including Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa.
Niger, is an ECOWAS member state and also belongs to the G5 Sahel countries, which with French support are fighting terrorism and insurgency in the region.
Nigeria’s former Vice-president Namadi Sambo heads the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to tomorrow’s vote in Niger.