Fugitive Niger parliament head alleges assassination plot
Niger's parliamentary leader, who fled to France after being accused of involvement in baby trafficking, said Sunday he was the victim of an assassination plot.
Hama Amadou, who is seen as the leading challenger to President Mahamadou Issoufou ahead of elections in 2016, also claimed the country's incumbent leader was behind the move to finish him off.
"It's a pretext to arrest me," Amadou told Jeune Afrique magazine. "I know the end: they will imprison me for a few days and then poison me."
Amadou said he was "convinced" of President Issofou's involvement, saying the authorities wanted to use "a poison made in Libya whose effects only surface a few months after it is taken."
"I know they have this macabre intention," he said. "A few days ago they fired shots at my house ... That's why I left Niger."
Amadou fled his country on August 27 and came to France after spending some time in Belgium.
Seventeen people, 12 of them women, were arrested in late June for their suspected involvement in a baby-trafficking ring between Nigeria, Benin and Niger.
One of Amadou's wives is among the 17 people. Agriculture Minister Abdou Labo was also remanded in custody in late August in the politically-charged probe.
The alleged crime involves forging and altering birth certificates to switch the names of mothers.
Amadou told Jeune Afrique that neither he nor his wife was involved in the trafficking ring, adding that "everybody in Niamey has seen she is pregant".
In neighbouring Nigeria, authorities have regularly uncovered so-called "baby factories" -- private clinics where young girls sell their newborns to couples who are unable to conceive.
Cases in which mothers give up babies born from rape have been reported at such clinics, but young women facing unwanted pregnancies are more common, the authorities say.
While newborns are sold for several thousand euros -- with boys fetching more than girls -- the mothers receive only around 150 euros ($200).
The impoverished country of Niger has the highest birth rate in the world, an average of 7.6 children per woman.
© 2014 AFP