Partial Niger election results show president heading for big win

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2016 5:50 AM

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou is heading for a crushing victory in a run-off election that became a near-formality when the opposition coalition declared a boycott, partial results on Tuesday showed.

With 226 constituencies counted from a total of 308, Issoufou received 93 percent of Sunday's vote, according to the national electoral commission. Turnout was around 61 percent.

Issoufou, an ally of the West in its fight against Islamist insurgents in West Africa, won the first round comfortably last month with 48 percent of votes but failed to clinch the outright majority required to avoid a second round.

The candidate who came second, opposition leader Hama Amadou, has been in jail since November on charges relating to a baby-trafficking scandal, but was flown to France for medical treatment last week.

Amadou says he is innocent and claims the charges against him are politically motivated.

The Coalition for an Alternative (COPA), which unites about 20 political parties including Amadou's MODEN, called for a boycott of the polls, claiming the process had been tainted by fraud.

Southern Niger, which borders Nigeria, has been the target of frequent deadly raids by Islamist Boko Haram militants.

It also shares borders with Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, where al Qaeda-linked groups are active. Libya, home to Islamic State affiliates, lies on its northern border.

(Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Angus MacSwan)