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Fresh protests in Niger as opposition candidate Ousmane claims victory

Protests erupted in Niger on Wednesday with tyres set alight and opposition supporters facing off with police as opposition candidate Mahamane Ousmane claimed victory in Sunday's presidential election.

It comes despite the National Electoral Commission (CENI) announcing he lost with more than 11 percentage points to his rival and ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum a day earlier.

"The compilation of results... which we have in our possession through our representatives in the various polling stations give us victory with 50.3 percent of the vote against 49.70% for the ruling candidate," said Ousmane.

Bazoum, a 61-year-old former interior minister, won just over 55% of the vote in Sunday’s election run-off, according to the electoral commission. He beat Mahamane Ousmane, 71, a former president who was toppled by a coup in 1996, who took 44% of the vote.

The provisional results must still be confirmed by the constitutional court.

The former president alleged fraud before the results were declared and his campaign said there had been theft, ballot-box stuffing and threats against voters, without providing evidence.

Voter turnout was pegged at 62.91%, according to the electoral commission.

The vote is supposed to usher in Niger's first transition from one democratically elected leader to another after President Mahamadou Issoufou announced he was stepping down after two five-year terms.

Niger has been marred by coups since the country's independence from France in 1960.

Bazoum thanked voters on Twitter after the result was announced that he would be a "loyal servant to confront all the problems our country is facing."

It is currently affected by a spillover of violence from two jihadist insurgencies in neighbouring Mali and Nigeria.

Niger is also the world's poorest nation according to the UN's development rankings for 189 countries.

Source: Africa news

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