UPDATE 2-Fraud worries overshadow peaceful Niger vote

Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:04pm GMT

* Election meant to end junta rule

* Junta leader says election "a new beginning"

* Mineral riches have drawn investment plans

(Adds polls closing, counting starting)

By Abdoulaye Massalatchi

NIAMEY, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Nigeriens voted peacefully on Monday in an election meant to end a year of military rule in the West African country but the outcome could prove contentious because of fears of fraud and disorganisation.

Polls closed at 7 p.m. (1800 GMT) and counting started, with the only serious disturbance reported in Tassara in the northeast, where security sources said some polling stations were attacked.

Local radio stations and a Reuters journalist who visited polling stations estimated turnout in the capital, Niamey, at below 50 percent.

The election commission said at the weekend it had been informed fake voter identification cards were sold before the poll, without saying how many, while eight of the election's 10 candidates had called in vain for the postponement of the vote to allow time for better preparation.   Continued...

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