The organisation of the presidential election for a first peaceful transfer of power between two elected presidents in Niger seems to be running out of steam. The proclamation of provisional results by the INEC has provoked a wave of violence in several cities in the country. The party that could have been hoped for did not take place.
With his first election due to lead to a first peaceful transfer of power between two democratically elected Presidents, Mahamadou Issoufou’s Niger was left to be congratulated. Indeed, in a West African sub-region where the race for a third term has become the norm, the President of Niger has decided to row against the tide, to respect the Constitution of his country which limits the number of terms at the head of state to two, and to achieve what none of his predecessors has managed to do since Niger’s independence.
A ballot that took place in « satisfactory conditions ».
The second round of the presidential election, which pitted the candidate of the ruling party, Mohamed Bazoum, against former President Mahamane Ousmane, went generally well on Sunday, February 21, 2021. Apart from a few irregularities that are not likely to call into question the validity of the vote, the main deplorable event was the death of seven agents of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) whose vehicle exploded on a mine in Waraou, a locality located about 100 km from Niamey.
In the light of these findings, observers from the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) organized a press conference on Monday, the day after the polls, and on the eve of the announcement of provisional results, during which they « urged all candidates to respect the results of the ballot boxes and to use procedures and legal channels for the settlement of any disputes, » because according to them, the election was held in « satisfactory conditions ».
Disputes, scenes of violence and death of men
The proclamation on Tuesday, February 23, provisional results that give the winner Mohamed Bazoum with 55.7% of the vote, leads to a challenge from the opposition who denounced an electoral hold-up. Scenes of violence are recorded here and there in the country: ransacked shops, vandalized gas stations, clashes between demonstrators and police, etc… This Thursday, demonstrators attacked the home of RFI correspondent in Niamey, Moussa Kaka, which they ransacked and set on fire.
Since the start of the demonstrations, at least two deaths have been deplored and 468 people have been arrested.
Faced with this outbreak of violence, the UN and ECOWAS issued a joint communiqué on Thursday in which they formally condemned these acts of violence. « ECOWAS and the United Nations strongly condemn the acts of violence that occurred following the proclamation of the provisional results and call on all stakeholders to exercise restraint, » the statement said.
What do Nigeriens want?
The observed post-election violence tarnishes what was supposed to be a great success, a successful peaceful transition process. It then becomes urgent to question the real motivations of Nigeriens who indulge in these acts of vandalism that do little honour to a country that is only at its first attempt at a peaceful transfer of power between two Presidents since its independence in 1960. What do these Nigeriens who ignite hotbeds of violence in their country want?
There is still time for the opposition to pull itself together, for Mahamane Ousmane, who is dragging behind him a reputation as a wise man, to call on the demonstrators to calm down so that Niger wins, especially since Mohamed Bazoum has his hand outstretched.