The 31st of January saw Niger’s Legislative elections, combined with the first round of the Presidential elections. Results are not yet known, and the top two in the Presidential race will re-run on 14 March. Here’s some tools to follow it.
The best immediate updates on the polls and count can be found at the African Elections observer site’s @NigerElections Twitter feed as well as their news site at africanelections.org/niger. Their photo gallery is also wonderful (and the source for the image above).
[UPDATE 2:40 GMT Feb 2 : There are no official results yet announced. Rumored provisional results are being passed around — an example is here — but their simple repetition of the urban conventional wisdom makes them either suspect or expected.
Mahamadou Issoufou (PNDS-Tarayya) in the upper 20s, followed by either Seyni Oumarou (MNSD-Nassara) and/or Hama Amadou (MODEN/FA LUMANA) from 20% to 24%. This would match both the aggregate Municipal/Departmental election results of January and the relative profile of the parties. While Issoufou is the favorite, there is no accounting for tactical endorsements for the second round. Note that an RFI reported telephone survey (seen via Sahelblog) reporting Issoufou with over 40% support seems a possible result of sample bias towards urban educated voters. A run off is almost certain, and the questions will be how Legislative results set the stage for the new government, and whether the PNDS faces the new MODEN LUMANA or the MNDS, reversed in last years coup. Each could color the results — and the mandatory backroom deals — very differently.
The reports of attacks by PNDS militants in their heartland of Tahoua, as well as unconfirmed charges by Hama of fraud and intimidation against his party in Tillaberi and Niamey, are not evidence of some general breakdown in law or a pattern of vote-rigging. Apart from 17 polling stations in Tassara (which seem to have been foiled by some local communal conflict), and reports of chronic petty delays and procedural fumbling, the poll seems to have proceeded in peace and openness. While turnout (30%-50%) is low, it is the historical norm, and some rural areas reported record-breaking numbers of women voters. ECOWAS observers, among 250 official NGO or foreign poll monitors, have seconded this impression.
Rather they may be a prescient image of petty parliamentary conflict in the 7th Republic, not unlike that between the CDS and the MNSD of the early 1990s which drove the 3rd Republic into gridlock.
Regardless, it will likely be several days before we get any real numbers, and several more before more distant of the more than 2000 polling offices report. ]
UPDATE, INTERNET CAMPAIGNING: Nigerien politics has begun to capture the social media bug, especially in the sizable diaspora community. You can follow announcements from the two Facebook pages (here and here) of Hama Amadou’s Mouvement Démocratique Nigérien Pour une Fédération Africaine MODEN-FA Lumana (as well as their website), the two Facebook pages for Mamadou Issoufou’s PNDS (here and here and their French section here) and their official website (a French section also has a web presence). The MNSD, perhaps tellingly, has no Facebook presence apart from this “Free Mamadou Tandja” page. I might also note that the official MNSD website was never updated after Hama and his supporters split form the party in 2009.
Nigerien parties and their supporters have made use of internet video in this campaign as never before. Highly produced videos of MODEN FA LUMANA events, videos of Mahamadou Issoufou’s PNDS campaign — including scenes from his recent appearances in all corners the country (not a normal feature of campaigns) — and MNDS rallies have appeared on You Tube and DailyMotion. There’s even several MNSD Nassara – Seini Omarou music videos. Wherever you come down politically, they’ll have you taping your toes. ]
Here are some of the latest news stories that caught my eye:
*Une élection présidentielle un peu trop calme(France24:The Observers): includes an inside look at the polling process and photo gallery.
*Le Sahel’s official statement:
“Le Président du Conseil Suprême pour la Restauration de la Démocratie, Chef de l’Etat, le Général de Corps d’Armée Djibo Salou, a procédé au lancement des opérations de vote : sous le signe de l’espoir…”
*Niger : Mêmes hommes, mêmes intrigues ? (radio analysis from RFI): Probably, would be my answer.
- UPDATE 1-Fraud worries overshadow peaceful Niger vote (af.reuters.com)
- allAfrica.com: Niger: Opposition Asks for Postponement of Elections (allafrica.com)
- PREVIEW-Niger races to secure poll for civilian rule | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters (af.reuters.com)
- Candidates seek new election body for Niger poll (reuters.com)
- TIMELINE-Niger holds presidential elections (af.reuters.com)
- Niger grants uranium permits to Russian Gazprombank | Reuters (af.reuters.com)