Niger is the world’s poorest nation, according to the UN’s benchmark of development of 189 countries, and is struggling with jihadist insurgencies that have spilled over from Mali and Nigeria.
Niger will choose between two heavyweights in a presidential run-off vote on Sunday set to bring about the first democratic transition of power in the coup-prone country’s history.
Only 7.4 million of the country’s 22 million population are eligible to vote on Sunday — the rest are under-age.
Thousands of soldiers will be deployed across the country for the vote, which is on track to usher in a peaceful handover between elected presidents, its first since independence from France in 1960.
Outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou’s decision to voluntarily step down after two five-year terms was welcomed in a region where many leaders have tried to cling on to power.
His successor will either be his right-hand man and anointed successor Mohamed Bazoum or Mahamane Ousmane, who became the country’s first democratically- elected president in 1993, only to be toppled in a coup three years later.
Ousmane, 71, is running for president for the fifth time since his ouster.