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Counting Begins in Niger's Presidential Election

  • VOA News

Niger's incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou votes at a polling station during the country's presidential and legislative elections in Niamey, Feb. 21, 2016.

Niger's incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou votes at a polling station during the country's presidential and legislative elections in Niamey, Feb. 21, 2016.

Counting has begun in Niger's presidential and legislative elections after the polls closed Sunday.

The results are not expected until sometime next week.

Mahamadou Issoufou is running for a second five-year term with a promise to crush Islamist militants and develop one of the poorest countries in the world.

"I hope that these elections proceed calmly and peacefully," he had said. "In any case, there will only be one winner, and that is Niger."

Using lamps , delegates at a polling station in Niamey start vote counting, Niamey, Feb. 21, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA )

Using lamps , delegates at a polling station in Niamey start vote counting, Niamey, Feb. 21, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA )

About 14 other candidates were running against Issoufou for the presidency, including Seyni Oumarou, the leader of an opposition coalition.

"It feels as though a duty has been accomplished with the electoral process," said Oumarou. "It is the end of this process, and we believe that God will help us today so that these legislative and presidential elections proceed in peace and serenity in order for the best to win."

WATCH: Related video of voters in Niger

Other opposition candidates include Hama Amadou, who has been detained on charges related to a baby-trafficking ring.

Critics of Issoufou say he used political repression in the run-up to the vote, arresting opposition supporters, politicians, journalists and even a singer who released a song critical of him.

President Issoufou told the French News Agency he is "absolutely" sure he will win the election and predicted a runoff will not be needed.

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