The Republic of the Niger national electoral commission on Tuesday, February 23, declared ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum the winner of the February 21 runoff election with 55.75% of the vote, but his rival, Mahamane Ousmane, a former president, has alleged fraud and claimed he won with 50.3%. The incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms.
The supporters of the losing candidate refused to accept the failure, and turned to violence, setting several buildings ablaze, burning tyres and threw rocks at the police on , as the authorities announced that two people had been killed in post-election protests this week.
Since then, two people have been killed and 468 detained during protests by Ousmane’s supporters in the capital Niamey, Interior Minister Alkache Alhada said.
“They want to wreak havoc,” Alhada said at a news conference, blaming opposition leader Hama Amadou for the violence.
There was no immediate response from Amadou, who finished runner-up in the 2016 election. He was barred from running this time because of a criminal conviction and threw his support behind Ousmane.
The election is meant to lead to the first transition from one democratically elected leader to another following four coups since independence from France in 1960.
On Thursday, February 25, small groups of Ousmane supporters took to the streets again to lob rocks at police and national guard troops, who responded by firing tear gas. Internet access has also been severely limited since Wednesday, February 24.