Mohamed Bazoum will face former president Mahamane Ousmane, who won 17 percent of the vote, for the February 21 runoff in the West African country.

Niger's presidential candidate Mohamed Bazoum leaves the polling station after casting his ballot in Niamey during Niger's presidential and legislative elections on December 27, 2020.
Niger's presidential candidate Mohamed Bazoum leaves the polling station after casting his ballot in Niamey during Niger's presidential and legislative elections on December 27, 2020. (AFP)

Niger's ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum will face former president Mahamane Ousmane in a presidential election runoff in February.

The country's electoral commission announced the provisional results of the first round of the contest on Saturday.

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

The second round is expected to be held on February 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.

READ MORE: Niger counts votes after presidential, legislative elections

Incoming political challenges

The incoming president will inherit several challenges, including rising violence from militants linked to al Qaeda and Daesh. 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 Nigerian 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.

Source: Reuters