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Niger's Opposition Leader Granted Release


FILE - Niger opposition leader Hama Amadou is pictured at his office in the National Assembly in Niamey, Sept. 16, 2013.

FILE - Niger opposition leader Hama Amadou is pictured at his office in the National Assembly in Niamey, Sept. 16, 2013.

Hama Amadou, Niger’s opposition leader, was granted bail Tuesday, five months after being detained on baby-trafficking charges he said were politically motivated.

Last week, Amadou lost a runoff election to President Mahamadou Issoufou, who won his second term with 92 percent of the vote. The opposition party boycotted the election, which led to the lopsided victory.

A spokesman for the opposition party said the charges were concocted and Amadou was arrested in order to sideline him for the election.

"The court should have freed him so that he could be on equal footing with Issoufou during the elections. It didn't. Hama is innocent and this case is a plot to push him out of political life," spokesman Ousseini Salatou said.

Amadou was held in a prison and was unable to campaign during the election. He was in poor health during the campaign and was flown to France for medical treatment four days before the March 20 vote, and he remained there Tuesday.

Several high-ranking members of the opposition party were arrested starting in June 2014, after police began investigating the alleged trafficking of newborn babies from Nigeria to wealthy families in Niger. Among those charged was Amadou’s wife, but she was later granted a provisional release.

Amadou fled the country after the arrests of his friends and colleagues began, but he returned in November and he, too, was arrested.

Originally, the court was scheduled to rule in Amadou’s case on March 14, a week before the election, but delayed the decision until March 28, a week after the election.

Issoufou is set to be sworn in for his second five-year term Saturday.

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