Niger blames backers of jailed presidential hopeful for violence

2016-02-04 21:30


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Niamey - Niger's interior minister on Thursday accused supporters of jailed presidential candidate Hama Amadou of acts of violence against backers of the incumbent president seeking re-election.

"Since the start of the campaign, there have been acts of aggression, violence committed by MODEN activists against supporters of [President] Mahamadou Issoufou and any vehicles with his poster," Hassoumi Massaoudou told AFP.

Issoufou is running for a second term in the February 21 vote in the arid west African country, while his rival Amadou, of the Democratic Movement of Niger (MODEN), remains in prison over allegations of taking part in a baby trafficking scandal.

The jailed politician, who was arrested in November on his return from exile in France, has denied the allegations and claims that "a political case" has been mounted to prevent him from challenging Issoufou.

He has been denied bail though several other senior political, military and business figures facing accusations in the case have been released pending trial.

The interior minister charged that Amadou's supporters had damaged "at least 50 vehicles" since the presidential campaign began on Saturday.


"There's never been such violence before during an electoral campaign," he said.

"Everywhere they see posters of Issoufou, they tear them down. When they run into activists with [car] stickers, they smash their vehicles," added Massaoudou, who is general secretary of the president's Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS).

On Tuesday evening, police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of Amadou's supporters who had gathered outside MODEN party headquarters in Niamey and spilled over into the road before a presidential motorcade was due to pass by.

MODEN's campaign director Youba Diallo has charged that the national and presidential guards joined police in cracking down on the meeting of Amadou supporters.

"We had to interrupt our meeting because of the suffocating gas," said one participant.

The incident was the first since the start of the presidential election campaign.

On February 21, almost 7.5 million voters will be called to the polls to choose among 15 presidential candidates, as well as electing a new parliament in one of the world's poorest nations.

Read more on:    niger  |  west africa

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