By SOF Editor on Mon, 11/02/2009 - 12:34pm
Niger has issued arrest warrants for two prominent members of the opposition, including the president's main-rival Mahamadou Issoufou, who has returned to Niger to face charges.
Just weeks after Niger went ahead with legislative elections boycotted by the opposition, the government has issued arrest warrants for two prominent opposition leaders. Mahamadou Issoufou and Hama Amadou are accused of money-laundering while traveling abroad.
Issoufou, leader of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, has returned to Niger to fight the charges.
Issoufou made a short statement on his arrival Friday in Niamey.
Issoufou says when he heard the arrest warrant had been put out against him, he decided to come home. Niger, he says, is his country and his homeland and that is why he has returned.
President Mamadou Tandja's government has made no statement regarding the arrest warrants.
Opposition parties boycotted parliamentary elections to replace lawmakers dismissed by President Tandja after they said it was illegal to change the constitution to extend his time in office. The ruling party won a majority of seats, despite opposition protests that the vote was illegal.
In a report Friday, Reuters quoted a senior legal source who wanted to remain anonymous as saying "numerous transactions" of large amounts of money "from dubious origins" had gone through Issoufou's accounts.
Bazoum Mohamed is vice-president of Issoufou's Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism. He says the government just wants to intimidate the opposition.
Mohamed says dictatorial regimes do not like the existence of an opposition, so they criminalize them and accuse them of terrible things like money-laundering. It is, he says, a low and disgraceful accusation.
Hama Amadou has refused to return to Niger.