Niger opposition leader returns to face law

A leading Niger opposition politician hunted by authorities for alleged money laundering has returned to the country to face the charges, media reported on Saturday.

Mahamadou Issoufou, whose Niger Party for Democracy and Socialism is a rival to President Mamadou Tandja, returned to the capital Niamey late Friday from Nigeria.

"As soon as I discovered that an arrest warrant had been issued against me, I decided to return so I could be here to cooperate with the judiciary," he said.

International arrest warrants were issued on Thursday for Issoufou and former prime minister Hama Amadou, for alleged "laundering of funds", Niger Justice Minister Garba Lompo said.

The opposition leaders are accused of "moving very large sums of dubious origin in accounts in Africa and Europe," the minister said, adding he had referred the matter to Interpol.

Issoufou and Amadou were leading voices in the campaign against a referendum organised by Tandja which introduced constitutional changes allowing him to stay in power beyond the end of his original mandate. - AFP

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