(AFP) – Jul 30, 2010
NIAMEY — The party of Niger's ousted president on Friday accused the military junta of a "witch-hunt" after the arrest of its leader, ex-prime minister Seini Oumarou, accused of embezzling public funds.
Police arrested Oumarou and other officials on Thursday in connection with an inquiry by an anti-corruption commission set up by the junta that ousted president Mamadou Tandja in a coup in February.
Ali Sabo, vice president of the opposition National Movement for a Developing Society (MNSD), said the commission was biased and accused it of carrying out "an inquisition" and "witch-hunt" against former members of Tandja's regime.
Oumarou, also the former minister of trade, and the others have been accused of embezzling public funds intended for a national Energy Fund to provide subsidies on petrol and domestic gas.
The others are: another former trade minister, Sala Habi; the secretary general of the ministry, Amadou Soumana Gouro; and the director of hydrocarbon fuels at the ministry of mines, Addo Mahamane.
The Commission to Fight Financial Crime in mid-July published in the press a list of the names of people accused of embezzlement along with the amounts that they were expected to return to the state.
It has asked Oumarou to pay 270 million CFA francs (412,000 euros, 535,000 dollars), and it wants 159 million CFA francs from Habi and about 429 million CFA francs from each of the other two senior civil servants.
The junta of General Salou Djibo promised to clean up the economy and launched audits and inquiries into possible corruption that occurred while Tandja was president, from 1999 to 2010.
The MNSD said in a statement that the arrest of its leader was an effort to tarnish him and the party to the benefit of other political parties.
Oumarou is expected to be nominated party candidate for January 3 presidential elections.
The MNSD demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Oumarou as well as ex-president Tandja and former interior minister Albade Abouba, also detained since the coup.
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