Niger opposition calls for release of jailed leader Hama Amadou

Niger’s opposition on Wednesday called for the release of presidential contender Hama Amadou, jailed for his alleged role in a baby trafficking scandal, ahead of a second round vote on March 20.

“We demand Hama’s release. If President Mahamadou Issoufou has any pride, all he has to do is free him and face him fair and square,” opposition coalition spokesman Ousseini Salatou said after visiting the former prime minister and national assembly president in jail.

Salatou said Amadou’s conditions were “increasingly difficult”, adding, however, that he was “very serene”.

Amadou, who has campaigned from behind bars, denies the allegations and has denounced the legal process against him as a ploy keep him sidelined from the elections.

He left Niger in August 2014 to escape the charges but returned from France last November, when he was immediately arrested and sent to prison in Filingue, northeast of the capital.

An appeals court on January 11 upheld the decision of another court in late December that he should not be granted conditional release.

President Issoufou took a solid lead in the February 21 first round vote in the uranium-rich nation’s presidential election but will now faces an unprecedented run-off against Amadou.

Issoufou won 48.4 percent of the vote with his nearest challenger Amadou picking up 17.4 percent.



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