Leading Niger opposition figure Hama Amadou, accused by the government of stoking unrest following the release of presidential election results, turned himself in to police in the capital Niamey on Friday, one of his aides said.
The West African country has been shaken by violence since it was announced on Tuesday that ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum won the weekend’s runoff vote by 55.75 percent to opposition candidate Mahamane Ousmane’s 44.25 percent.
Ousmane has contested the result as a fraud and claims that he had narrowly won.
Interior Minister Alkache Alhada on Thursday accused Amadou of being “the main person responsible” for the unrest. The authorities say two people have died and hundreds have been arrested.
“As usual he is on the run, but we will find him,” Alhada said.
But a member of Amadou’s entourage told AFP on Friday that “he turned himself in this morning to the judicial police with his lawyer, and they are currently in a meeting.”
That account was backed up by a source close to the authorities.
Amadou had once been considered the main opposition contender to run against Bazoum, the hand-picked successor of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou.
However Amadou was banned from running because of a conviction for baby trafficking — a charge he says was politically motivated — and threw his support behind Ousmane.
During the campaign, Amadou lashed out Bazoum for being a member of Niger’s ethnic Arab minority, in sometimes very strong comments that several sources close to the authorities said could make him liable for criminal prosecution.
Alhada accused Amadou of “incitement to murder, violence, unacceptable racist remarks (and) xenophobia” and accused him of wanting to come to power by “setting fire” to Niger.
Protests and clashes with police have occurred in several cities since the results of Sunday’s vote were announced, and the home of a Radio France Internationale (RFI) reporter in Niamey was ransacked.
The elections have been trumpeted as a democratic watershed for the Sahel state.
It is simultaneously the world’s poorest nation according to the UN’s benchmark of human development, and fighting two jihadist insurgencies that have forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
Issoufou is voluntarily stepping down after two five-year terms, paving the way for the first transition between two elected leaders since independence from France in 1960.
Benin: Court confirms the re-election of President Talon
The re-election of President Patrice Talon was confirmed Wednesday by the Constitutional Court of Benin.
Talon, 62, in power since 2016, won the April 11 poll alongside Vice President Mariam Chabi Talata, with 1,982,534 votes out of a total of 2,297,315 valid votes cast, according to the court.
The re-elected president is the 14th head of state of the Republic of Benin.
Some opposition parties boycotted the presidential election due to pre-election violence and their objection to President Patrice Talon’s quest for a second term.
Somalia: Parliament votes to extend presidential term
The lower house of Somalia’s parliament voted on Monday to extend the president’s term by two years.
It is about letting the African nation prepare for direct elections, said Mohamed Mursal Sheikh, speaker of parliament.
One hundred and forty-nine (149) lawmakers voted in favor of the proposal which one rejected and three abstained, Mursal said.
Guinea jails opposition figure for ‘insurrection’
A Guinean court on Monday jailed a doctor and leader of an aid group for a year for crimes including calling for insurrection, after he campaigned against President Alpha Conde’s standing for a third term in 2020.
Arrested in November a few weeks after Conde’s fiercely opposed reelection, Mamady Onivogui leads the Sante Vie pour Tous (Health and Life for All) group in southeastern city Macenta, as well as being the local representative for opposition movement Elazologa (That Won’t Work).
A court on the outskirts of capital Conakry found him guilty Monday of inciting violence and insurrection, threats and offending the head of state.
The judge gave Onivogui a one-year sentence and fined him 30 million Guinean francs (2,500 euros, $3,000).
At his trial late last month, prosecutors claimed he “used offensive words tending to disturb public order and tarnish the president’s honour”, calling for a 10-year sentence and a fine triple the final amount.
“I have never used offensive language about anyone at all,” Onivogui retorted, while his lawyer Salifou Beavogui said he would appeal.
“My husband fights every day for our city to have power, water and classrooms. I know that it’s in part because of that that people in high places wish him harm,” Onivogui’s wife Mamadama Sylla told AFP.
Alpha Conde’s bid for a third term was met with months of demonstrations by both the political opposition and civil society groups, which the government countered with sometimes brutal force, and dozens of people died after the protests began in October 2019.
Conde, 83, was nevertheless reelected in the first round.
Since then, aid groups like Amnesty International have accused the government of carrying out a wave of arrests and of responsibility for the deaths of people in custody, allegations the government denies.
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