Opposition leader faces probe

Former parliamentarian says he has no reason to run from graft allegations.

    President Tandja has been criticised for his moves
    to extend his powers [EPA]

    "I heard that they issued an international arrest warrant for me. The powers that be didn't have to go to that length. They could have simply called me to face a judge and I would have turned up."

    Several thousand supporters of Issoufou's Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) turned up at Niamey airport to welcome him and accompanied him home.

    'Dubious' transactions

    The case against Issoufou is the latest chapter in a political crisis that has seen Tandja extend his time as president, increase his powers and remove presidential term limits, a move that has been criticised at home and internationally.

    "You know, dictatorial regimes don't like the idea of an opposition existing. They don't like the idea of them so they criminalise them and accuse them of terrible things like money laundering"

    Bazoum Mohamed,
    PNDS party vice-president

    The Reuters news agency quoted a senior legal source as saying that the money laundering investigation had found "numerous transactions" of large amounts of money "from dubious origins" through Issoufou's accounts, leading to the charges.

    Niger authorities say the investigation is aimed at rooting out corruption, but Issoufou's deputy called the charges were politically motivated.

    "You know, dictatorial regimes don't like the idea of an opposition existing. They don't like the idea of them so they criminalise them and accuse them of terrible things like money laundering," said Bazoum Mohamed, the PNDS vice- president.

    "Issoufou would never take part in shameful practice."

    The PNDS, which had previously allied with Tandja, earlier this month boycotted an election to replace parliament after Tandja dissolved it in the run-up to an August referendum boosting his powers.

    ECOWAS subsequently suspended Niger's membership from the West African bloc and the country is also facing a possible freeze in European Union development aid.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.