Thousands protest against government in Niger

President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou- image source koulouba

President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou- image source koulouba

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Niger’s capital Niamey on Saturday to voice anger against the government, which will face elections next year.

The demonstrators, who were mostly youths, made their way to the parliament chanting “Down with the government” and “Our country or death, we will prevail”. Others wore red ribbons around their necks.

“It is just a general despair. The wrongs we are denouncing are numerous,” said Moussa Tchangari, one of the march’s organisers.

In recent weeks shop owners’ unions in Niger have called for the cancellation of a 2014 agreement that gives the French group Bollore a monopoly over the operations of the two largest customs warehouses in Niamey.

The arrangement has allegedly prompted a significant increase in taxes.

The capital and major cities across the country have also recently been plunged into darkness for several days at a time due to heavy disruptions in the supply of electricity from neighbouring Nigeria.

“Freedoms seem stifled,” said activist Djibril Abarchi, another organiser of the march.

The protesters also criticised a government decision to increase the number of parliament members from 113 to 171 in 2016.

“This is yet another unnecessary burden for Nigeriens to bear,” said Abarchi.

Parliamentary and presidential elections are set for early 2016 in Niger, with President Mahamadou Issoufou set to run for another term in power.

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