Niger president to run for re-election

Niamey (AFP) - Niger's ruling party announced Saturday that President Mahamadou Issoufou will run for re-election next year.

Issoufou, 63, was selected as his party's presidential candidate "so that he can continue the work he started for the benefit of the people of Niger," said Bazoum Mohamed, leader of the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS).

"President Issoufou's record has been very satisfying," he said at a ceremony marking the occasion which was attended by 5,000 people.

Issoufou was first elected in 2011 in a vote organised by a military junta which in 2010 overthrew president Mamadou Tandja, who was seeking to stay in power beyond the two-term limit set by Niger's constitution.

Issoufou's nomination makes him the third candidate for the presidential poll, which will be held concurrently with parliamentary elections, with a first round set for February 21.

Former parliamentary speaker Hama Amadou, who is living in France, and ex-planning minister Amadou Boubacar Cisse have also announced their candidacies.

Both supported Issoufou in the second round of voting in 2011 after their own bids for the presidency fell through.

The United Nations called in September for "peaceful and credible elections" amid political tension and threats to stability from jihadist forces in the desert north and from the radical Islamists of Boko Haram based in neighbouring northeast Nigeria.

Three people were injured late Saturday when police used teargas against stone-throwing protesters during clashes in Niger's central second city of Zinder, at a rally in support of ex-president Mahamane Ousmane, private radio Afani reported.

The protesters burnt tyres and set up makeshift barricades, paralysing traffic.

Supporters of Ousmane, who has repeatedly run for president since being ousted in a 1996 coup, are protesting against a ban on their man standing as a candidate in next year's election.

Niger, whose primary source of foreign income is uranium, has joined a regional military alliance to fight Boko Haram, infamous for mass abductions, massacres and suicide bombings by women and teenagers. The Islamists began attacking southern Niger last February.