Niger’s political aspirants officially launched their campaigns on midnight Saturday. Banners, posters and party colours have emerged in the country’s capital Niamey, where campaigns for the first round of presidential elections on February 21st opened, without Hama Amadou, a local favorite, who has been in prison for more than two months now. Giant billboards bearing a potrait of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou, who is seeking a second term dot the city. Other candidates have also erected massive posters for their campaigns, like Amadou Boubacar Cissé, the country’s former Minister of Planning and Seini Oumarou, a former prime minister and a leading oppossition politician, who lost in the second round against Mr. Issoufou in 2011.
“Our candidate (Mr. Issoufou) will be elected by the people of Niger in the first round,” said Mahamadou Karidjohe, the defense minister, addressing hundreds of activists gathered at the headquarters of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS).
Of the 15 candidates, Hama Amadou, the former Speaker of Parliament, who has been in prison since November 14, will not be able to campaign on the ground.