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Niger's President Holds Election Lead

FILE - Niger President Issoufou Mahamadou arrives on the occasion of a summit on migration in Valletta, Malta, Nov. 12, 2015. Election results released Feb. 24, 2016, show he continues to hold a lead in his bid for a second term.

The latest results from Niger's presidential election released Wednesday showed incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou maintaining his lead.

Niger's electoral commission said Issoufou had about 37 percent of the vote. Opposition candidate Hama Amadou was in second place with 22 percent, followed by Seyni Oumarou with 14 percent.

The results from Sunday's election included ballots from 82 of the West African country's 308 voting districts.

On Tuesday, a coalition of opposition parties rejected the official tallies as fraudulent. The head of the coalition, Amadou Cisse, said the government invented "thousands of polling stations" to skew the results.

Issoufou ran for a second five-year term on a promise to crush Islamist militants and step up development in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Critics said the president used political repression during the campaign, arresting opposition supporters, politicians, journalists and even a singer who released a song critical of him.

If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote in the first round, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff election on March 20.