Niger is headed toward a presidential run-off election, after current President Mahamadou Issoufou fell short of a majority in the first round of voting.
Provisional first-round results released Friday show Issoufou winning 48.4 percent of the vote. Former prime minister and opposition candidate Hama Amadou was second with 17.8 percent.
Issoufou, who is seeking a second five-year term, predicted before the February 21 election that a runoff would not be needed.
Amadou finished second, despite conducting his campaign from prison. He was detained in November on charges of taking part in a baby-trafficking scheme. He has said the charges are politically motivated.
Earlier this week, a coalition of opposition parties dismissed the official tally as a fraud. Coalition head Amadou Cisse said Tuesday the government invented "thousands of polling stations" to skew the outcome.