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Niger Leader Urges Calm Election

September 26, 1999

NIAMEY, Niger (AP) _ Niger’s military leader announced on Sunday the start of campaigning for presidential and parliamentary elections intended to mark a return to civilian rule in this west African country.

Junta leader Daouda Malam Wanke appealed for calm in a national radio address, saying a peaceful campaign was necessary to ensure free and fair elections.

There was a festive atmosphere Sunday as supporters of various political parties drove through the capital, Niamey, in convoys of honking cars.

Seven presidential candidates have registered for the Oct. 17 ballot, including former President Mahamane Ousmane, who was deposed in 1996 by the late President Ibrahim Mainassara Bare.

If necessary, a second round of voting will take place Nov. 24.

Wanke took power in April after Bare was assassinated by members of his own presidential guard, which Wanke headed.

Niger, which straddles the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, is one of the world’s poorest countries.

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