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In Niger Boycott helps President Issoufou win re-election

The candidate who came second, opposition leader Hama Amadou, has been in jail since November on charges relating to a baby-trafficking scandal, but was flown to France for medical treatment last week.

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Niger's incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou speaks to journalists after voting during the country's presidential and legislative elections in Niamey, Niger, February 21, 2016. play Niger's incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou speaks to journalists after voting during the country's presidential and legislative elections in Niamey, Niger, February 21, 2016. (REUTERS/Joe Penney)
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Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou won a second term with 92.5 percent of the vote in a run-off poll that the opposition coalition chose to boycott, the electoral commission said on Tuesday.

Issoufou, an ally of the West in its fight against Islamist insurgents in West Africa, won the first round comfortably last month with 48 percent of votes but failed to clinch the outright majority required to avoid a second round.

The candidate who came second, opposition leader Hama Amadou, has been in jail since November on charges relating to a baby-trafficking scandal, but was flown to France for medical treatment last week.

Amadou says he is innocent and claims the charges against him are politically motivated.

But the size of Issofou's victory is unlikely to draw significant international criticism, in part because of the boycott, but also because the incumbent has only been in power since 2011.

The Coalition for an Alternative (COPA), which unites about 20 political parties including Amadou's MODEN, called for a boycott of the polls claiming the process had been tainted by fraud.

The turnout was 60 percent, the commission said. The vote is subject to confirmation from the constitutional court.

Southern Niger, which borders Nigeria, has been the target of frequent deadly raids by Islamist Boko Haram militants.

It also shares borders with Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, where al Qaeda-linked groups are active. Libya, home to Islamic State affiliates, lies on its northern border.

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