Tuesday, March 8, 2016 9:13 pm
Niger’s opposition coalition said on Tuesday its candidate, Hama Amadou, would not contest a run-off election on March 20, effectively ensuring that President Mahamadou Issoufou will win a second term.
Amadou has been in prison since November on charges relating to baby-trafficking. He says he is innocent and a victim of political repression. The government denies wrongdoing and says it follows the law.
Issoufou fell just short of outright victory in the Feb. 21 first round with 48.4 percent of the vote, compared with 17.8 percent for Amadou. The incumbent is expected to win the run-off because several smaller parties have said they will support him.
Issoufou campaigned on a promise to clamp down on Islamist militants and revive the economy in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.
Niger is under threat from Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which is based in Nigeria but has staged a series of cross-border attacks in the southeastern Diffa region, forcing the government to impose a state of emergency there.
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.