UPDATE: Thursday, 3:05 p.m. EST — Niger's electoral commission said President Mahamadou Issoufou has won 48.8 percent of the votes counted so far in Sunday's presidential election. His closest contender Hama Amadou, who is currently behind bars for baby-trafficking charges, has garnered 16.74 percent, according to initial returns from 202 of Niger's 308 municipalities.
With more than 65 percent of the poll results released Thursday, a run-off vote between Issoufou and Amadou seems possible. If no presidential candidate scores more than 50 percent in Sunday's election, a second round of voting will take place between the top two candidates next month.
— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) February 25, 2016
UPDATE: Thursday, 9:08 a.m. EST — Preliminary results from 184 of Niger's 308 municipalities show incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou has 50.01 percent of the votes. His closest rival Hama Amadou is now in a distant second with just 15.5 percent of the votes counted, according to online data from the country's electoral commission.
With ballots from dozens of municipalities still uncounted, many Nigerien voters are growing frustrated and suspicious as partial results from Sunday's elections slowly trickle in. “They must give the results quickly because the situation is too tense right now. People are nervous,” one resident in the capital of Niamey recently told France24.
“We want the results quickly. Everyone is waiting,” another resident said.
The opposition has already declared the partial results as fraudulent. But some Nigeriens are not as wary about the delay.
“It’s completely normal that they should take 72 hours; that’s a minimum. in some countries it takes a week or one month,” a voter in Niamey told France24. “Why should we in Niger be impatient?”
“This is niger, we’ll wait,” another citizen said.
Voting in Niger’s concurrent presidential and parliamentary elections were extended into a second day at various polling stations where logistical problems prevented voters from casting their ballots the previous day. Polls reopened in four of the eight regions in the landlocked West African nation, according to Reuters.
Otherwise, the head of Niger's electoral commission said voting went well across the country and the results process just takes time. “At every level the representatives of all the parties and the candidates need to validate all the results and that can explain why the transmission of results is taking time,” Ibrahim Boube, president of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Niger Republic, or CENI, recently told France24 at the body's headquarters in Niamey.
UPDATE: Wednesday, 3:23 p.m. EST — Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou is pulling ahead with a 20 percent lead in the country's presidential election. Initial returns from 97 of Niger's 38 municipalities give Issoufou, who is seeking a second term, 38.58 percent of votes. His closest contender Hama Amadou has won 18.02 percent, according to the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Niger Republic, or CENI.
Mahamadou Issoufou is running for a second term as president of Niger. There were 14 other candidates. (Getty) pic.twitter.com/vRaW6Z7Obh
— reported.ly (@reportedly) February 23, 2016
UPDATE: Wednesday, 9:29 a.m. EST — Partial election results show incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou leading the presidential race by more than 14 percent. According to votes counted by Niger's electoral commission in 72 of 308 municipalities, Issoufou has garnered 36.2 percent while his closest challenger Hama Amadou, who is behind bars for baby-trafficking charges, has 21.95 percent.
Another opposition candidate, Seyni Omar, has won 15.53 percent of the ballots counted thus far. Former President Mahamane Ousmane, who was Niger’s first-ever democratically elected president, has just 8.23 percent, according to provisional results posted on website of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Niger Republic, or CENI.
A coalition of opposition parties has already dismissed the partial tally as fraudulent. Amadou Cisse, a presidential candidate and the head of the Coalition for Change group, said Tuesday the Nigerien government created "thousands of polling stations" to rig the outcome, VOA News reported.
Niger opposition decry irregularities in Sunday's polls. Ah, African big men have never seen an election they didn't want to steal
— Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3) February 22, 2016
UPDATE: Tuesday, 8:48 p.m. EST — Provisional results from Niger's presidential election show incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou maintaining a lead over his closest rival Hama Amadou. Issoufou, who is seeking a second term, has won 36.91 percent of the votes counted in 34 of Niger's 308 municipalities, though Amadou is not far behind with 22.72 percent, according to the West African country's electoral commision.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Seyni Omar has garnered 14.34 percent of the ballots counted and ex-president Mahamane Ousmane has just 8.79 percent. Out of Niger's seven regions, Omar appears to be winning the majority of votes in south-central Zinder, while Amadou is winning Tillaberi and Doso regions in the southwest. Issoufou appears to be amassing a majority in the south-central Maradi region and the massive northern Agadez region, the largest subdivision in Africa, according to a map of the preliminary results provided by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Niger Republic, or CENI.
UPDATE: Tuesday, 10:43 a.m. EST — Opposition parties in Niger have rejected provisional results from Sunday's presidential election, which show incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou in the lead. Amadou Boubacar Cisse, a presidential candidate and spokesman for the Coalition for Change group of opposition parties, alleged voting fraud, according to Reuters.
"These results are completely contrary to what was expressed at the ballot box," Cisse reportedly said Tuesday.
Preliminary results from 27 out of Niger's 308 municipalities gave Issoufou 35.9 percent and 19.35 percent to his closest rival, Hama Amadou, who has been jailed since November on baby-trafficking charges. Opposition leader Seyni Oumarou has garnered 13.71 percent of the votes counted thus far, while former President Mahamane Ousmane is in fourth place with 11.93 percent, according to the West African country's electoral commission.
— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) February 23, 2016
UPDATE: Tuesday, 8:34 a.m. EST — Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou has taken the lead in the country's presidential election, according to partial results collected by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Niger Republic, or CENI. The incumbent has clocked up 40.18 percent of the votes counted so far, while jailed opposition candidate Hama Amadou is trailing behind with 29.17 percent.
Seyni Omar, the leader of an opposition coalition, is in a distant third place with 12.08 percent of the ballots counted so far, and Ibrahim Yacouba has 3.42 percent. The preliminary results represent valid votes cast in 20 municipalities. CENI officials have yet to count ballots at 288 other municipalities, according to the commission's website.
UPDATE: Monday, 3:08 p.m. EST — Partial results from Niger’s electoral commission show jailed opposition candidate Hama Amadou has a narrow lead ahead of incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou. Amadou, who is currently in prison for baby-trafficking charges, has won 39.71 percent of the votes counted thus far, while Issoufou has 38.24 percent, according to preliminary data collected by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Niger Republic, or CENI.
Amadou is running for the Moden/FA-Lumana Africa party and was arrested in November on charges for baby trafficking, though he denies any wrongdoing. He has been denied bail but cleared to run for office, even as a prisoner. The incident has put Amadou in the spotlight as a viable challenger against Issoufou and the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, also known as PNDS Tarayya.
Seyni Omar, the leader of an opposition coalition, is in third place with 10.29 percent of the ballots counted thus far, and former President Mahamane Ousmane is in fourth place with 8.82 percent. Both Ibrahim Yacouba and Adal Rhoubeid have 1.47 percent of the votes counted, while the 10 remaining presidential challengers have garnered less than 1 percent, according to partial results from CENI.
— Christelle (@zafiryadis) February 22, 2016
Voting in Niger’s presidential and parliamentary elections extended into a second day Monday at various polling stations where logistical problems prevented voters from casting their ballots the previous day. Polls reopened in four of the eight regions in the landlocked West African nation — the northeast Tahoua, Zinder in the east, the southeast Diffa and Tillaberi in the west, according to Reuters.
"The vote restarted on Monday in areas where the polling stations didn't work yesterday," Kadi Moustapha, a spokesman for the West African Network for Edification and Peace observer group, told Reuters Monday.
Nigeriens are deciding whether to re-elect President Mahamadou Issoufou or one of the 14 opposition candidates. Issoufou, who came into power in 2011, is running for a second term with promises of keeping Niger safe from terrorism and politically stable. Diffa remains under a state of emergency after Islamic militant group Boko Haram in neighboring Nigeria launched a string of attacks there in recent months. Niger’s elections also come on the heels of a number of coups d'état and coup attempts since the country declared independence from France in 1960. The Nigerien government arrested nine military officers in late December for allegedly planning a coup against the president.
Issoufou’s critics, however, accuse his administration of ruling with an iron fist and arbitrarily arresting the leader’s perceived opponents. One of the presidential contenders, Hama Amadou, was jailed in November on charges of baby trafficking. He denied any wrongdoing and said the allegations were politically motivated. He has been denied bail but cleared to run for office, even if it’s from behind bars. The incident has put Amadou in the spotlight as a viable challenger against Issoufou and his ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism.
Seyni Oumaru, the leader of an opposition coalition, is also vying for the presidency. He was the runner-up to Issoufou in the 2011 presidential race and served as prime minister under former President Mamadou Tandja, who was ousted in a military coup in 2010 after a decade in power.
Meanwhile, Niger’s first-ever democratically elected president is hoping to step back into power. Mahamane Ousmane, 66, was toppled in a coup three years after his 1993 election and has sought a fresh start in every presidential election since, according to AFP.
This is a developing story.