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Intense campaigns in Niger ahead of elections

General elections will be held in Niger on 21 February 2016, with a possible presidential run-off on 20 March.
 Electoral system
The President of Niger is elected using the two-round system.
The 113 members of the National Assembly are elected by two methods; 105 members are elected from eight multi-member constituencies based on the seven regions and Niamey by proportional representation. The remaining eight seats are reserved for national minorities and are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting.
 Presidential candidates
Mahamadou Issoufou, the incumbent President, is running for a second term. He was designated as the candidate of his party, the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), on 7 November 2015. 
Seyni Oumarou, former Prime Minister (2007–2009), was designated as the candidate of the National Movement for the Development of Society (MNSD) on 29 November 2015. 
Amadou Boubacar Cissé, former Prime Minister (1996–1997), candidate for the Union for Democracy and the Republic. 
Abdou Labo was designated as the candidate of the Democratic and Social Convention (CDS) on 14 November 2015. 
Mahamane Ousmane, former President (1993–1996), candidate for the Nigerien Movement for Democratic Renewal (MNDR). 
Hama Amadou, former Prime Minister (1995–1996, 2000–2007), returned from exile on 14 November 2015, planning to stand as the presidential candidate of his party, the Nigerien Democratic Movement for an African Federation, but he was immediately arrested upon arrival at the airport in Niamey in connection with the allegations of involvement in baby-trafficking that had led him to flee into exile in 2014.
On 9 January 2016, it was announced that the Constitutional Court had cleared 15 candidates to run. All of the major candidates were approved, including Hama Amadou, who was still in jail over charges that he alleged were politically motivated, and Abdou Labo, who was not imprisoned but was also facing charges related to the baby-trafficking investigation. One minor candidate, Abdoul-Karim Bakasso, was barred from running on the grounds that he had not submitted a medical certificate. 

An appeals court refused Amadou's request to be released on 11 January.  Speaking through his lawyer, Amadou said afterward that he was a political prisoner and would not pursue any further appeal.

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