Francophone community to vet Niger voter list

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By Agencies

The world organisation of French-speaking nations is to scrutinise Niger’s electoral roll (voter list) ahead of crucial elections this year, President Mahamadou Issoufou’s office said Wednesday.

The impoverished and politically volatile West African state is due to hold presidential, legislative and municipal elections by year’s end.

Issoufou made the announcement after meeting a representative from the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) — the French-language equivalent of the Commonwealth.

The president “absolutely insisted that an OIF team come to Niger to audit the electoral roll because he wants transparent and credible elections,” his office said in a statement, quoting OIF envoy Desire Nyaruhirira.

Nyaruhirira said the OIF would “carry out a technical assessment of the biometric electoral roll”. The organisation carried out similar checks in 2010 and 2016.

The first round of the presidential elections, along with the legislative poll, is due to take place on December 27, preceded by the municipal ballot.

Issoufou, elected in 2011 and 2016, is not seeking a third term.

The ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) has put forward a former interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, as its candidate.

Other major contenders are Hama Amadou of the Nigerien Democratic Movement; Seini Oumarou, of the National Movement for the Society of Development; and Mahamane Ousmane, who was president from 1993-1996.

Former foreign minister Ibrahim Yacouba and General Salou Djibo, who was the head of a military junta that ruled from February 2010 to April 2011, have also filed a bid.

The opposition has a long-running protest campaign against the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and says a new electoral code, approved by parliament in June 2019, was adopted on a “non-consensus basis”.