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Niger’s Largest Political Party Predicts Election Victory

  • Peter Clottey

Presidential candidate Seini Oumarou, a former prime minister under deposed president Mamadou Tandja, casts his vote in Niamey, Niger, Monday, Jan. 31, 2011. This impoverished country on the edge of the Sahara took another stab at democracy Monday when it

A top official of Niger’s biggest political party, the Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya), said preliminary results of the presidential vote show his party will form the next government, which will take over from a military regime.

Sani Iro, communications director of PNDS-Tarayya, says his party is hopeful the Independent Electoral Commission will, in his words, stick to the scheduled timetable by announcing the final results of the election Wednesday.

“We are very optimistic about our chances, as PNDS, because we have seen the tendencies and our political party is far on the frontlines (ahead in the polls) compared to the other parties. So, we are really optimistic and we hope that we are going to win this election,” said Iro.

Some observers say polling appeared to go smoothly during the presidential vote Monday. Voters were expected to choose among 10 presidential candidates. A run-off vote will be held in March if no candidate wins a majority.

With only partial results so far released by the electoral body, Iro expressed confidence his party will win.

“There is this reason that, on the local election that took place two weeks ago, our party came very far [ahead] of the other parties. So, we think that the [trend] is going to be reinforced so that we can win this election,” said Iro.

“People are satisfied with the manner that the elections took place because there was no trouble, there were no [irregularities]; so, really, there was peace and it has been very calm. So, everybody is satisfied with the manner that the election took place,” he said.

Niger's military leaders have promised to restore civilian government after overthrowing President Mamadou Tanjda last February. Junta leader General Salou Djibo said Monday the elections offer a new beginning for the country.

The military removed President Tandja after he forced through constitutional changes to expand his powers and extend his rule. He is now in prison for alleged graft.

Iro said Nigeriens have been yearning for a return to democracy after the military junta deposed former President Tandja.

“Nigeriens really like democracy and they have understood democratic regimes. So, it is really a satisfaction for the population to see the democracy coming back to in the country… People like democracy because they understand that it is only a democratic regime that the country can be developed,” said Iro.