Niger court orders reopening of private broadcaster

2018-03-28 21:00
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A court in Niger on Wednesday ordered the reopening of a private broadcaster shut down at the weekend after a banned demonstration that turned violent, officials said.

The judge deemed the closure of the Labari radio and television station "illegal" and ordered security forces stationed outside the premises to leave, editor-in-chief Ismael Moumouni told AFP.

Clashes broke out Sunday afternoon in the capital Niamey between security forces and protesters defying a ban against a demonstration over new taxes in the former French colony.

Police shut down Labari "until further notice".

The broadcaster is owned by Ali Idrissa, a rights activist who was arrested along with three other leading opposition and rights figures on Sunday.

Niger Interior Minister Bazoum Mohamed accused Labari of inciting people to take to the streets with a "subversive message of revolt".

A total of 23 people were arrested including Idrissa, opposition figure Nouhou Arzika, rights activist Moussa Tchangari and rights lawyer Lirwana Abdourahamane.

Officials of the Collectif d'ONG, an association of grassroots groups that organised the protest, said they had been charged with organising and taking part in a banned march and "abetting damage to public and private property".

Rights watchdog Amnesty International called on Monday for the 23 arrested to be released.

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Interior Minister Mohamed told AFP that Sunday's protest had been banned for "security reasons", notably because it was planned for after dark.

"They incited (the public) and disrupted public order and were arrested for rebellion for describing the ban as illegal," he said.

Niger, one of the world's poorest countries, has seen frequent protests over new taxes in the 2018 budget.

The economy of the largely desert country has been hit by falling prices for oil, which it officially began exporting in 2011, and uranium, of which it is a major exporter.

Read more on:    niger  |  west africa

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