Niger president vows ‘transparent’ vote in 2016

Mahamadou IssoufouNiger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou, facing a fragmented opposition, has said he wants to ensure next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections are “transparent”.

Issoufou’s statement to public television on Wednesday evening came after launching a new voter registration process.

“We want the next elections to be transparent, free, honest and credible,” Issoufou said.

Niger has a population of 17 million, but only 6.7 million people were registered to vote in the 2011 poll.

The new registration process, which will take three weeks to complete and is backed by the ruling and opposition parties as well as independent groups, lays “the foundation for a credible election”, said Issoufou, whose family has also signed up to vote.

Legislative and presidential polls will be held in the first half of 2016.

The political climate in Niger has been tense since former parliament speaker Hama Amadou abandoned the regime and joined the opposition in 2013, becoming Issoufou’s main rival.

Then Amadou became one of some 20 people accused of trafficking in newborn babies, a charge he maintained was politically motivated.

Issoufou’s regime has denied this allegation.

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