Niger to elect new parliament head after ex-speaker flees

20th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

Niger's constitutional court on Thursday declared the post of parliament speaker vacant after the incumbent, who has been named in a baby trafficking scandal, fled to France.

The court asked lawmakers to elect a new head within 15 days, in line with the constitution. The parliament began its budget session on October 4.

"The constitutional court has just declared the post of parliament speaker vacant," Niger television reported, citing a statement by the west African country's top court.

The former speaker, Hama Amadou, who had been seen as a leading challenger to President Mahamadou Issoufou in 2016 elections, left Niger on August 27 after lawmakers approved his questioning in the scandal.

He went to Burkina Faso and then to Belgium and is currently in France. Niger issued an arrest warrant for Amadou at the end of September.

Seventeen people, 12 of them women -- including one of Amadou's wives -- were arrested in late June for their suspected involvement in a baby-trafficking ring between Nigeria, Benin and Niger.

Amadou says the charges are politically motivated. In September he called for an international arrest warrant to be issued so that he could argue his case before the French authorities.

© 2014 AFP

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