Bazoum succeeds President Mohamedou Issoufou, who steps down after serving two terms in accordance with the Niger constitution. Issoufou’s decision to respect the constitution was widely welcomed and paved the way for the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in Niger since its independence from France in 1960. The West African country has seen four coups.
Bazum pledged to be the “elected president of all Nigerians” during his inauguration speech Friday. While President Bazoum promised to preserve the unity and brotherhood of the people of Niger, he said that he was ready to continue “the necessary constructive dialogue with opposition leaders to promote a peaceful political climate in the interests of our country.”
His main opponent in the elections, Mahman Othman, rejected the election results, claiming fraud. Supporters of Othman organized mass demonstrations.
“I will be the president of the republic in the service of peace, progress and happiness for the Nigerian people” and the African continent, Bazum said.
Bazoum is the successor to Issoufou Mukhtar and a longtime cabinet minister from a small ethnic Arab minority in Niger. He was a former Interior Minister in Niger who is also a teacher by training.
However, fears have escalated that the installation could lead to more violence in Niger. The latest massacre, which killed at least 137 people, came on the same day the Constitutional Court upheld Bazoum’s election victory. At least 100 others were killed in villages near the border on the day Niger announced that the presidential election would hold a second round on February 21.
Security was tightened on Friday in the capital, Niamey.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price congratulated the new president.
The United States congratulates Nigerian President Muhammad Bazum on his inauguration, marking a historic transition of power from one democratically elected president to another. This is a milestone for democracy in Niger, “according to the statement.” We value the strong relationship between the United States and Niger and look forward to working with President Bazoum’s administration to expand bilateral relations, including in the areas of development, humanitarian aid, security and trade. “
The United States remains concerned about the recent outbreak of violence in the capital, and condemns “any attempt to undermine the democratically elected government of Niger,” according to the statement.
Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.