Niger's top court confirms Bazoum as next president

FILE PHOTO: Niger’s ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum addresses his supporters after he was declared the winner of presidential election in Niamey, Niger February 23, 2021. REUTERS/Tagaza Djibo NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger's top court on Sunday confirmed Mohamed Bazoum's victory in last month's presidential run-off, allowing the ruling party candidate to be sworn into office next month.

Bazoum's inauguration on April 2 will mark the West African country's first transfer of power from one democratically-elected leader to another. President Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms.

The constitutional court credited Bazoum, a former interior minister, with 55.66% of votes, ahead of former president Mahamane Ousmane, who had 44.34%.

The court said in a statement it had cancelled the results from 73 polling stations, without saying why. That very slightly reduced Bazoum's margin of victory.

The statement did not directly respond to Ousmane's allegations that the vote was marred by fraud.

The dispute sparked deadly protests in the capital Niamey last month. At least two people died and hundreds were arrested.

(Reporting by Boureima Balima and Moussa Aksar; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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