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Niger Votes in Presidential Runoff
Date: 3/20/2016 5:43:52 PM Sender: VOA
A polling station worker counts ballots during the second round of the presidential election at the polling station in Niamey, Niger, March 20, 2016.

Voters in Niger are choosing a president Sunday, with incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou in line to easily win the runoff after his jailed opponent was flown out of the country for medical reasons, and the opposition called for a boycott of the election.

A VOA reporter in Niger said voting began very quietly, with low turnout across the country in the early voting hours.

Opposition candidate Hama Amadou was taken from his Niamey jail cell and flown to a Paris hospital Wednesday.

Amadou has been in jail since November on baby trafficking charges – allegations he and his supporters say are politically motivated.

Illness allegation

Opposition officials said Amadou has been sick since he was jailed, but his illness is unclear.

Amadou is a former speaker of Niger's parliament. His name is on the ballot even though his opposition coalition said last week it is boycotting the runoff.

The opposition said results of the first round, won by incumbent President Issoufou, were "grotesque and cooked up."

The coalition also accused Niger's top court of conspiring with the government to ensure Issoufou's reelection. The opposition alleges he is becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Despite a wealth of energy resources, Niger is one of the world's poorest countries.

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