Niamey: Lawmakers in Niger chose an ex-opposition member to become the new head of Parliament on Monday, replacing Hama Amadou who fled to France after being named in a baby trafficking scandal.
Amadou Salifou "was declared elected as speaker of the National Assembly with 71 votes," out of 113, said parliamentary vice-president Daouda Marthe, who has led Parliament since Amadou`s departure.
Salifou, who is in his 60s, was recently suspended from Niger`s main opposition party, the National Movement for a Developing Society (MNSD), for deciding to support President Mahamadou Issoufou, an MNSD source told AFP.
The former speaker, Amadou, who had been seen as a leading challenger to 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.