UPDATE: 1:57 p.m. EDT-- Initial returns from 140 of Niger’s 308 municipalities show incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou leading with 94.32 percent of the vote so far. His rival, jailed opposition leader Hama Amadou, has 5.68 percent, according to provisional results collected by the country’s independent electoral commission.
— Voice of America (@VOANews) March 20, 2016
UPDATE: 1:29 p.m. EDT -- Radio France Internationale, aka RFI, reportedly had its airwaves temporarily blocked Monday in the Republic of Congo. The French radio station has aired critical coverage in recent months of Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is seeking to prolong his three-decade rule over the oil-rich nation, according to European media platform EurActiv.
La radio mondiale RFI vient d'être coupé et il y aurait un couvre feu ce soir à partir de 20h00.... https://t.co/N1VkXx0NOA
— PatrickEric Mampouya (@PatrickEric) March 21, 2016
UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. EDT -- Provisional results from 80 of Niger’s 308 municipalities show incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou leading with a whopping 94.21 percent of the vote so far. His rival, jailed opposition leader Hama Amadou, has 5.79 percent, according to initial returns tallied by the country’s independent electoral commission.
— eNitiate (@The_eNitiaters) March 21, 2016
UPDATE: 11:50 a.m. EDT -- Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday congratulated Benin’s president-elect Patrice Talon on his victory in Sunday’s run-off vote. The Nigerian leader also applauded Beninese citizens and the country's current administration on a peaceful election.
“The President is encouraged by the determination and exemplary conduct demonstrated by Beninese in coming out en masse to perform their civic duties. President Buhari believes that the successful conclusion of the electoral process marks an important step in consolidating democracy in the sub-region and a beacon for other African countries to emulate,” Buhari’s spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement obtained by Nigerian newspaper Premium Times. “The president trusts that the Beninese will give the incoming government all the necessary support to succeed and reaffirms that Nigeria, as a beneficiary of the dividends of democracy, will continue to build strong partnerships with her neighbors for the peace, progress and prosperity of our citizens.”
Benin's independent electoral commission announced earlier Monday that Talon, a successful businessman and former ally of President Thomas Boni Yayi, won the presidential run-off with 65.39 percent of the vote. His rival, outgoing Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, garnered 34.61 percent.
Buhari congratulates Benin Republic’s president-elect, Patrice Talon https://t.co/VzpcEJsq7s
— Premium Times (@PremiumTimesng) March 21, 2016
UPDATE: 11:14 a.m. EDT -- The European Union on Monday demanded the restoration of communications in the Republic of Congo after the government there cut mobile phone and internet services for two days following the presidential vote, citing security reasons. The EU decided last month against sending observers to monitor Sunday’s election because the Congolese government apparently failed to fulfil recommendations made by the EU mission to the Central African country on reforming the electoral law.
“The Congolese people have participated in number to the presidential elections and the voting was generally held peacefully despite the cutoff of communication and shortcomings in the organization of the vote,” the EU said in a statement on its website Monday. “At this stage, it is important that the process of counting and vote tabulation takes place in an orderly and transparent and verifiable manner. The EU encourages all political actors to use the legal channels to resolve their differences and calls on the authorities to restore communications.”
— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) March 20, 2016
UPDATE: 10:44 a.m. EDT -- Initial returns from 53 of Niger’s 308 municipalities show incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou expanding his immense lead with 93.06 percent of the vote so far. His rival, jailed opposition leader Hama Amadou, has just 6.94 percent, according to early results tallied by the country’s independent electoral commission.
— Imad Mesdoua (@ImadMesdoua) March 21, 2016
— Aurelia BAILLY (@AureliaBAILLY) March 20, 2016
Three African countries are eagerly awaiting results in presidential elections held Sunday that were considered largely peaceful. Niger and Benin in West Africa held runoff polls, while the Republic of Congo in Central Africa held its first round of voting. Official tallies have not yet been announced, but Benin’s outgoing Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou already conceded defeat Monday in the presidential race to businessman Patrice Talon.
"I called Patrice Talon tonight to congratulate him on his victory and wish him luck," Zinsou said in a statement on his Facebook page. His remarks come after early results overnight gave 64.8 percent of the vote to Talon against Zinsou’s 35.2 percent, according to Reuters. The latest preliminary results from the country's electoral commission on Monday show Talon leading with 65.39 percent to Talon's 34.61 percent.
— CENA Benin (@Cenabenin2016) March 21, 2016
Meanwhile, neighboring Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou looks more than likely to win re-election in Sunday’s second round of voting. Initial returns from 30 of the country’s 308 municipalities on Monday show the incumbent leading with 90.93 percent of the vote, while his rival Hama Amadou is far behind at 9.07 percent, according to online data from the country's electoral commission.
Issoufou, who is seeking a second five-year term, won the first round easily last month with 48 percent of votes but failed to clinch the absolute majority needed to avoid a runoff. His main opponent, Amadou, came in second with 18 percent in the first round. The opposition leader has been jailed since November on baby-trafficking charges, though he was cleared to run for office, even as a prisoner. Amadou, who has not been convicted, was flown out of the country to Paris last week for treatment of a chronic health issue, a government spokesman told Reuters.
— African Elections (@Africanelection) March 20, 2016
Hundreds of miles away in the Republic of Congo, longtime leader Denis Sassou Nguesso is expected to extend his 32-year grip on power over the oil-rich country, but not without controversy. Shortly after polling stations closed Sunday, police fired tear gas at opposition supporters in the capital Brazzaville’s Bacongo neighborhood, an opposition stronghold. The Congolese government also cut mobile phone and internet services for two days “for reasons of security and public tranquility,” a government official told Reuters. However, the media blackout raised concern that the vote would not be conducted fairly.
"I'm not confident. I see already that our voices are being stolen. The real results will not be given," one voter told Reuters on Sunday.
— Marion Scappaticci (@m_c_scappa) March 20, 2016