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Niger presidential candidate ill, to be flown to Paris for treatment

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 6, 2013 shows Hama Amadou (C), then head of Nigers' parliament, delivering a speech at the Parliament House in Niamey, Niger.  Jailed Niger opposition leader Hama Amadou, who is due to face off against President Mahamadou Issoufou in a March 20 election, was transferred to a hospital on March 11, 2016, an opposition spokesman told AFP. Amadou has eyes problems and "was evacuated to the Niamey hospital this morning for treatment," said Ousseini Salatou, spokesman for the opposition coalition known as COPA 2016 that backs Amadou for president against the incumbent head of state.  / AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 6, 2013 shows Hama Amadou (C), then head of Nigers’ parliament, delivering a speech at the Parliament House in Niamey, Niger.<br />Jailed Niger opposition leader Hama Amadou, who is due to face off against President Mahamadou Issoufou in a March 20 election, was transferred to a hospital on March 11, 2016, an opposition spokesman told AFP. Amadou has eyes problems and “was evacuated to the Niamey hospital this morning for treatment,” said Ousseini Salatou, spokesman for the opposition coalition known as COPA 2016 that backs Amadou for president against the incumbent head of state.<br />/ AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO

Niger presidential candidate Hama Amadou, who was jailed for four months, is ill and will be flown Wednesday to Paris for medical treatment, just days before standing for election, an opposition spokesman said.

Amadou, 66, faces incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou in a second-round run-off vote Sunday after campaigning from behind bars since being jailed on shadowy baby-trafficking charges in November.

Amadou was flown by helicopter to the capital Niamey from Filingue, the town where he was jailed some 180 kilometres (110 miles) away, and “will being directly evacuated to Paris,” said Ousseini Salatou, spokesman for the COPA 2016 opposition coalition.

There was no immediate confirmation by the authorities but late Tuesday Justice Minister and government spokesman Marou Amadou said Amadou would be “evacuated” from Filingue due to a “chronic illness he has suffered for three years.”

The COPA 2016 spokesman said Amadou would likely be admitted to the American Hospital in the west Paris suburb of Neuilly.

Amadou’s doctor Harouna Yacouba was arrested on Tuesday on grounds of “false news” after telling several TV stations his patient had been hospitalised with “worsening health.”

Amadou picked up nearly 18 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election on February 21, running second to Issoufou who took 48 percent but failed to clinch an outright majority and avoid a second round run-off, as he had hoped.



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