Niger’s elected president, Bazoum, rules out power sharing | Election News
Bazoum also accused the opposition of bringing children to post-election protests where at least two people were killed.
Niger’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, ruled out a power-sharing deal with the opposition and blamed it for bringing children from rural areas for post-election protests.
Ruling party candidate Bazoum was declared the winner of the country’s second round of presidential elections on Tuesday, triggering allegations of fraud by the opposition, which also staged protests in which at least two people died and over 400 have been arrested.
The electoral commission said Bazoum won 55.75% of the votes cast on February 21, while opposition candidate and former president Mahamane Ousmane won 44.25%.
Ousmane disputed the announcement, saying he narrowly won with 50.3% of the vote.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Bazoum said that no power-sharing deal was possible because he won overwhelmingly, adding that “in our electoral system, it is impossible to cheat”.
“Their representatives were part of the whole voting process and then they accepted this fraud,” Bazoum said, before treating the protesters as “thieves”.
“They were children. They are not protesters and they have no political vision. They are thieves who attack Arab and Tuareg stores. “
Niger’s Interior Minister Alkache Alhada told reporters on Thursday that one of the two deaths occurred as a result of an epileptic fit while the other person was shot.
There was also “destruction of infrastructure, public and private property,” he added.
Bazoum belongs to the small Awlad Suleiman tribe, which exists in Chad and Libya. In Niger, the tribe is based on its south-eastern borders with Chad.
Being the first Arab to be appointed president, Bazoum said he was initially reluctant to run for president as he was from an ethnic minority, but was persuaded to do so by outgoing president Mahamadou Issofou.
“I belong to this small tribe but he encouraged me to run for [the] presidency, ”Bazoum said.
“I am proud because we have twice succeeded in transferring one civil governance to another civil governance in a democratic system. I am also very proud that people voted for a candidate from a small tribe and that means Nigeriens are united and transcendent. Some issues that most African countries face such as tribalism, racism – thank goodness we have avoided these things.
Bazoum was the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1995 to 1996 and again from 2011 to 2015 before being appointed Minister of the Interior in 2016.
He revealed a plan to counter extremism in his country, saying he was not very keen on international aid.
“I have a program to take soldiers from local tribes in the area – Gorane tribes, Arabs and Kanuri – to train them and hire them into the national army and national guard. When you have courageous people from this region, they will become a force.