A year after coup, Niger has peaceful elections

By March 16, 2011

Niger (MNN) — The results are in from Niger's first fair election in years.

"Opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou won the March 12 presidential runoff vote," says Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope. "Issoufou won by a comfortable margin — 58% of the votes, about 1.8 million —  according to preliminary estimates."

Issoufou's leading competition, Seini Oumarou, was an ally to ousted president Mamadou Tandja.

In February 2010, Tandja was overthrown by a junta-led coup. Unrest ensued after Tandja moved to change the constitution, allowing him to remain in office indefinitely. The coup response to overthrow Tandja was received warmly by most Nigeriens at the time. (Read about the 2010 coup here.)

The military rulers promised elections to be held but did not give a definite time frame at first. The recent presidential race, just a year later, has proven their words true, however, and Niger can look forward to new rule.

Last weekend's elections went smoothly, according to the African Union. The latest reports say that Issoufou won by a landslide, but results will not be finalized until April 1.

The BBC reports that the country seems to be continuing on as normal, without violence or disturbance regarding the results.

DeYoung says Christians appear to be welcoming the new president, as well. "He seems to be a candidate that most of the Christian population of Niger will be comfortable with," notes DeYoung.

The church makes up a small majority of the population, but it is growing. Pray that under new rule there may be even more opportunity for outreach and church growth in the overwhelmingly-Muslim country. Words of Hope continues to broadcast radio programs across the nation proclaiming the truth of the Gospel.

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