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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Niger opposition leader abducted

A truck holding prisoners, including Marou Amadou, in Niamey 11 August
Marou Amadou was among a group of prisoners brought to court in Niamey

An opposition leader in Niger, Marou Amadou, has been abducted, hours after he was freed by a court on charges of breaching state security.

Mr Amadou's lawyer, Marc Le Bihan, told the BBC that men in uniform took him to an unknown destination.

He was arrested on Monday after calling for protests against a new constitution extending the president's term.

Meanwhile, the opposition coalition, the CFDR, has vowed to fight President Mamadou Tandja's rule.

The CFDR says it will restore the parliament, which the president dissolved in his attempt to hold onto power.


Mamadou Tandja
Former army colonel, part of 1974 coup
First elected in 1999
First Niger leader to be re-elected - in 2004
Says he must stay in office to continue economic projects
Critics say the referendum was the same as a coup

A spokesman for Mr Amadou's party - the United Front for the Protection of Democracy (Fusad) - said he had been kidnapped by the authorities as he prepared to leave a prison in Niamey.

"Marou Amadou has just been kidnapped aboard two 4x4 vehicles by members of the Republican Guard," Ali Idrissa told the AFP news agency.

"We conclude from this that the authorities are not willing to respect the court decision," he added.

The new constitution, which was approved in a referendum on 4 August, extends President Tandja's mandate by three years.

It also allows him to run in subsequent elections, potentially giving him the opportunity to stay in power for life.

The EU and France have criticised the referendum and called on Niger to restore a democratic framework.

France says it will watch closely when Niger holds a parliamentary election on 20 August.

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