Niger's President Mamadou Tandja and his ruling party seem headed to victory in presidential and parliamentary elections being held Saturday, but the opposition is already crying foul.

Turnout was light in the capital, Niger Saturday and in many other cities.

Many voters said they expected President Tandja would easily win the second round vote, after four first round losers decided to back him.

Voters also said they expected the ruling National Movement for the Development of Society to increase its advantage in the enlarged 113-seat national assembly. The ruling party has campaigned on themes of stability and economic growth, with possible oil revenues in the future.

Voting at polling station 00 in Niamey, Mr. Tandja said Niger has firmly chosen the path of democracy.

He said Niger can become an example for the rest of Africa in how to conduct a clean vote.

But opposition presidential candidate Mahamadou Issoufou was not impressed.

After voting, the opposition leader accused Mr. Tandja of using state funds for his campaign, intimidating village chiefs to garner support, and using state officials as campaign workers.

Mr. Issoufou says he believes the transparency of the voting in 2004 is much lower than in 1999, when elections were first held to replace military rule.

Mr. Issoufou also lost in the second round five years ago. He campaigned on anti-corruption themes, but won just a quarter of the vote in November's first round. He was unable to get the support of any major political leader outside his party.

Niger ranks second to last ahead of Sierra Leone, in the United Nations Human Development Index of 177 countries. International donors are footing most of the bill to organize the vote.