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Niger President to Face Run-off Vote

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

Niger is headed toward a presidential run-off election, after current President Mahamadou Issoufou fell short of a majority in the first round of voting.

Provisional first-round results released Friday show Issoufou winning 48.4 percent of the vote.   Former prime minister and opposition candidate Hama Amadou was second with 17.8 percent.

Issoufou, who is seeking a second five-year term, predicted before the February 21 election that a runoff would not be needed.

Amadou finished second, despite conducting his campaign from prison.  He was detained in November on charges of taking part in a baby-trafficking scheme.  He has said the charges are politically motivated.

Earlier this week, a coalition of opposition parties dismissed the official tally as a fraud.  Coalition head Amadou Cisse said Tuesday the government invented “thousands of polling stations” to skew the outcome. – VOA NEWS –

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