Niger opposition quits in presidential run-off

Niger opposition coalition quits in presidential run-off against President Issoufou due to "unfair treatment between the two candidates" in election

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Supporters of Niger's incumbent president and presidential candidate Mahamadou Issoufou attend a campaign rally at the Seyni Kountche stadium in Niamey, on Febuary 18, 2016.

Niger’s opposition coalition announced on Tuesday that its jailed presidential candidate Hama Amadou will boycott the run-off race against President Mahamadou Issoufou.

Issoufou won in the first round with 48.43 percent of the votes on Feb 21, while his nearest rival Amadou - who has been jailed since November for doubtful baby-trafficking charges- got 17.73 percent.

Amadou had to carry out his campaign from prison in the first round and the Court of Cassation will decide on whether to continue with his trial on March 23, three days after the second-round.

The opposition coalition COPA 2016 has accused Issoufou’s government of fraud in the first round, with official results not being announced as of yet.

"The political opposition united by COPA 2016 has decided to withdraw from the electoral process under way (and) demand that its representatives withdraw from (national electoral commission) CENI," Seini Oumarou from the opposition bloc said in an announcement on Tuesday stating that there was "unfair treatment between the two candidates".

A campaign poster depicting Hama Amadou is seen in Niamey, Niger on February 2, 2016.

A cabinet statement announced on state television on Monday that the Constitutional Court was holding back the first-round results.

"There has been no official announcement by the Constitutional Court of the final results of the first round," said Oumarou, a former prime minister who ranked third in the first round.

He also criticised the cutting of the second-round campaign from 21 to 10 ten days, saying that it violated the constitution.

The opposition coalition said its candidate Amadou had been "unfairly deprived of his freedom in violation of international standards of free, fair and democratic elections."

"COPA holds President Issoufou and the Constitutional Court solely responsible for the social and political situation in Niger," COPA said.

Althought the government insists the first round of elections was "free and transparent" as observers from the African Union also said that they were generally satisfied with the organisation of the votes, despite logistical glitches and delays.

There has been no released announcement but the government says the second round will be held despite the opposition’s withdrawal. The Saharan country has a total of 7.5 million people who are eligible to vote in the elections.

TRTWorld and agencies