Niger closed its land borders and ramped up security on Sunday for an election in which President Mahamadou Issoufou is running for a second term.
The election unfolded without major incident, although the late arrival of voting materials caused many polling stations to stay open after their scheduled closing time. Niger had about 7.5 million voters registered for the election, and candidates were also competing for 171 legislative seats.
Voting ended at 7 p.m. Sunday after a day of steady turnout in most areas but polls will reopen from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday in areas where voting could not take place on the day before, the electoral commission said.
Provisional results are expected by Friday at the latest. If no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will head to a runoff.
Issoufou has campaigned on a platform that includes the need for more security.
Boko Haram has hit Niger's southeast region for more than a year and recent high-profile attacks by Al-Qaeda's North Africa branch in the capitals of Mali and Burkina Faso have raised fears that Niger's capital of Niamey could soon be targeted.
"Niger needs strong democratic institutions. I hope that the presidential and legislative elections will permit us to reinforce our institutions," Issoufou said when he cast his ballot at city hall in the capital Niamey.
He faces 14 candidates including Seyni Oumaru, leader of an opposition coalition. Critics say Issoufou has used political repression in the run-up to the vote, jailing opposition leader Hama Amadou.
Amadou has been detained since November for his alleged involvement in a baby-trafficking scheme, a charge he has dismissed as politically motivated. Amadou's detention, along with the recent detentions of politicians, journalists and even a singer who released a song critical of Issoufou, have been cited by critics as evidence of Issoufou's desire to silence opponents.
"These are not free and fair elections. We have one presidential candidate in prison who has not been able to campaign. ... The president has manipulated the electorate and used repression," said Amadou Saidou, a voter in Niamey.
The government says it respects the law and calls such criticisms politically motivated.
Local media reported problems in Tahoua region in the northeast, Zinder in the east, Diffa in the southeast and Tillaberi in the west. The country has eight regions in total and results are not expected before Tuesday.
Opposition spokesman Ousseini Salatou said on Tenere, a private television station, that the election had been badly organized and he had witnessed cases of voting card fraud.
Niger produces uranium and oil but is ranked last in the U.N.'s Human Development Index and has one of the world's highest fertility rates. The country ranks 114 out of 142 in the 2015 prosperity index run by the UK-based Legatum Institute.