Opposition leader Mahamane Ousmane claims he narrowly won the country's presidential election, as fresh violence erupts in capital Niamey.

Niger's demonstrators throw stones as opposition supporters protest after the announcement of the results of the country's presidential run-off in Niamey, on February 24, 2021.
Niger's demonstrators throw stones as opposition supporters protest after the announcement of the results of the country's presidential run-off in Niamey, on February 24, 2021. (AFP)

Supporters of Niger's opposition leader Mahamane Ousmane have set up burning barricades and clashed with riot police in the capital Niamey, as the former president declared himself the winner of Sunday's vote, despite losing the official tally.

On Tuesday the election commission declared ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum winner with 55.75 percent of the ballots cast, sparking overnight street demonstrations that continued into Wednesday.

Police were seen beating protesters with fists and batons, in streets strewn with rocks and abandoned goods carts. Elsewhere a group of young men walked down a road with a picture of Ousmane, waving sticks and threatening passersby.

"The compilation of results... which we have in our possession through our representatives in the various polling stations give us victory with 50.3 percent of the vote," Ousmane said, according to a video of a speech he made in the southeastern town of Zinder.

Irregularities alleged 

The election was meant to usher in Niger's first transition from one democratically elected leader to another, with President Mahamadou Issoufou stepping down after two five-year terms.

Ousmane rejected the results in several areas where he said "irregularities" had occurred, claiming he had won 50.3 percent against Bazoum's 40.7 percent in the presidential run-off.

"Thus, we reject the results in their entirety wherever irregularities have been noted," he said in a video address from Zinder, the country's second largest city.

Internet restricted 

The internet was severely restricted on Wednesday, forcing Ousmane's campaign team to distribute the video to journalists in Niamey by hand.

"We reserve the right to exercise our right to appeal for annulment so that justice can be done," said Ousmane, a former president who was toppled by a coup in 1996.

The Timia district in the city of Agadez reported a participation rate of 103 percent, he said, returning 99 percent in favour of Bazoum. Ousmane alleged his teams there had been forced to sign result certifications at gunpoint.

An observer mission from the Economic Community of West African States said the vote was held "under free, fair, credible and transparent conditions."

Election in poor nation 

Bazoum, speaking at his party's headquarters on Tuesday, said he would be "the president of all Nigeriens" and reached out to Ousmane.

"Knowing his wisdom, I would like to count on him," Bazoum said.

"If the opposition has doubts (about the election), it should be able to have the evidence" to put to the Constitutional Court, which certifies the results, he said.

The leaders of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad have congratulated Bazoum on his win.

The Francophonie organisation of French-speaking countries meanwhile condemned the post-election violence.

Niger is the world's poorest nation according to the UN's development rankings for 189 countries.

It is also struggling with militant insurgencies that have spilled over from Mali in the west and Nigeria in the southeast. Hundreds of lives have been lost and an estimated 460,000 people have fled their homes. 

Source: Reuters