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Niger's number two junta leader arrested: military

by Staff Writers
Niamey (AFP) Oct 14, 2010
The number two in Niger's ruling junta, Colonel Abdoulaye Badie, has been arrested, a military source said on Thursday amid media speculation of a foiled coup plot, but he was later seen at his home.

"Colonel Badie was arrested yesterday afternoon and is under detention in military headquarters in Niamey," a military source said.

"He is being interrogated," the source added, without explaining the reasons for the arrest.

Several other military sources and a source close to the junta confirmed the arrest, but Badie was seen at his home later on Thursday.

While Badie refused to comment to an AFP reporter, a man who said he was a relative denied that Badie had been arrested.

"That is completely false," he said. "He was not even detained."

Badie was permanent secretary to the junta under General Salou Djibo, leader of the coup that overthrew Niger's president Mamadou Tandja in February. He also served as chief military quartermaster.

Djibo issued a decree abolishing the post of secretary on Sunday but left Badie as a member of the junta, which calls itself the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD).

In its edition of Monday, the independent weekly Le Canard Dechaine suggested that the suppression of the secretary's post could be linked to "crazy reports about an attempted coup d'etat" in preparation.

The spokesman for the junta, Colonel Abdoul-Karim Goukoye, could not be reached for comment.

For several days, the military presence in the capital and its suburbs has been stepped up, with larger patrols, particularly at night, AFP journalists noted.

"An aborted coup d'etat?" asked the weekly L'Actualite on its first page, speculating on "a political machination in the making to destabilise General Salou Djibo's transition".

L'Evenement considered that the desire of the head of the junta to "clean up" political and military circles could have created "discontented people", particularly among officers "close to the former regime" and even within the CSRD.

Last Friday, in another decree, Djibo had sacked the top commander of the national guard (the former republican guard), Lieutenant-Colonel Abdou Sidikou. The official statement announcing his dismissal gave no explanation.

In another decree also signed on October 8, the head of state named a lieutenant-colonel of the paramilitary gendarmerie, Mahamadou Ibrahim Bagadoma, to the post of government commissioner (prosecutor) to the military tribunal. This tribunal has not sat for several years.

Bagadoma replaces Colonel Amadou Diallo, a member of the junta and minister of public amenities.

The alleged arrest of the number two in the junta comes as Niger, one of the world's poorest countries rich only in uranium, is preparing for a transitional process intended to restore democracy.

A constitutional referendum is planned for October 31 to start this process, which will culminate with a presidential election on January 31, 2011.

The junta plans to hand over to an elected civilian government on April 6, 2011, when the new president is due to be sworn in.

The last civilian president, Tandja, was ousted by the military after he took a series of steps to prolong his term in office beyond the end of his elected mandate, which was in December last year.

The junta won widespread public support in February when it pledged to turn the west African country, which ranks last on the Human Development Index, into a beacon of "good democracy and governance".

The junta has thus far refused to release Tandja, whom it is holding in a villa within the presidential compound.

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