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Niger Human Rights Activist Comes Out of Hiding

A leading Niger human rights activist has vowed to continue his opposition to President Mamadou Tandja despite what he claims to be threats of assassination from security agents.

Marou Amadou, chairman of the United Front for the Protection of Democracy (FUSAD) said he has come out of hiding to fight for democracy.

Amadou went into hiding shortly after being released by a judge following his incarceration at the Koutoukale maximum security prison for defying President Tandja's decree.

Amadou said that he came out of hiding to ensure Nigeriens don't live in fear.

"Our national police have received the order to take me not to court, but to torture (me). So, our comrades have decided they cannot let police take me again," Amadou said.

He said the police often arrest people without any warrant.

"When the police decided to take me, it is never with a mandate, never. Always when they take me it's after I'm in jail that they decided to have the reason why they take me. So, we have decided that we cannot accept these things again," he said.

Amadou said he would continue opposing the Tandja administration despite alleged threats of torture and assassination.

"I know that they are not very happy with what I am doing. I know that they can have the intention to kill me, but I have decided that my country must have a democratic life for freedom and justice," Amadou said.

He said Nigeriens are determined to fight for their freedom.

"People have decided to give their life for the opportunity that you can actually live in freedom justice. So, it is an engagement and I know that we can have some success," he said.

Amadou said Nigeriens will not live under what he calls President Tandja's tyrannical motives.

He described as regrettable President Tandja's constitutional amendment.

"It is all the republic of Tandja who is illegal and illegitimate. So if you participate in his parliamentary election what do you do? You legitimize this republic … you know that," he said.

Amadou accused President Tandja of subverting the constitution.

"He is the product of the violation of our constitution. He is not the king of Niger, he is a citizen of Niger and he has no power. We are in a system of separation of power," Amadou said.

He said there are indications that President Tandja wants to turn Niger into a Kingdom where he is the king who rules forever.