June 30, 2009 / 8:30 PM / 10 years ago

Niger opposition leader arrested - witnesses

NIAMEY, June 30 (Reuters) - Niger’s main opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou was arrested on Tuesday amid a growing crisis over the president’s push to hold a referendum to extend his rule, witnesses said.

Witnesses said Issoufou had been taken to the offices of the paramilitary gendarmerie in the capital, Niamey.

A security source said he was being held following his call on Niger’s forces to disobey orders from President Mamadou Tandja, who announced on Friday that he would rule by decree after the highest court declared his referendum plan illegal.

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