Opponent in France as Niger holds run-off vote

2016-03-20 20:40
 Hama Amadou. (Boureima Hama, AFP)

Hama Amadou. (Boureima Hama, AFP)

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Niamey - Niger's president is running for a second five-year term on Sunday against an opponent who campaigned from behind bars before being flown last week to Paris for medical treatment.

An opposition coalition has said it will not recognise the results of the run-off, calling for new elections to be organised because of alleged rigging in the first round.

President Mahamadou Issoufou finished first in the first round of balloting on February 21 with 48%, just shy of the majority he needed to avoid a second round. The second-place finisher, Hama Amadou, earned nearly 18% of the vote despite having been detained since November for alleged involvement in a baby-trafficking scheme, a charge he has dismissed as politically-motivated.

Amadou was transferred to a hospital in Niger's capital, Niamey, on March 11 before being flown to Paris last week. His spokesperson has not given details on his health condition.

One of the world's poorest countries, Niger hosts French forces and American drones to combat the regional threat posed by Islamic extremists. Its southeast region has come under repeated attack by the Nigeria-based militant group Boko Haram, though Issoufou's supporters say he deserves a second five-year term because of his success in preventing militants from setting up a base in their country, as they have in neighbouring Mali.

Security risks were highlighted on Thursday when the government announced two separate attacks in border regions - one presumably carried out by Boko Haram in the southeast near Nigeria and another by unknown gunmen in the west near Burkina Faso and Mali.

Three gendarmes were killed and four security forces were wounded.

Read more on:    niger

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