Wednesday, December 16, 2015 2:15 pm
Niger’s government on Tuesday fixed Feb. 21 as the date for a presidential election that incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou, who the opposition accuses of leading a campaign of repression, is heavily favoured to win.
Legislative elections will be held the same day and campaigning for both will take place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 19, according to an official communique released following a cabinet meeting.
Issoufou won election in 2011 in a poll that restored democratic rule following an army coup a year earlier. While he has become an important ally of the West in the fight against regional Islamist militants, critics have complained that he has become increasingly authoritarian.
Authorities agreed to audit voter rolls before next year’s vote under pressure from the opposition, who criticised the lists.
Issoufou’s Niger Party for Democracy and Socialism expects him to win a second term with an absolute majority in the first round.
His main challenger is expected to be former prime minister Seyni Oumarou, who finished second to Issoufou in the 2011 election.
Hama Amadou, an ex-parliament speaker and former Issoufou ally, pledged in September to return from exile to run in the presidential election. He flew back to Niger last month but was immediately arrested on charges of involvement in a baby trafficking scheme.
He denies the accusations against him, claiming the charges are politically motivated.