Niger: Tandja Released

Last week I argued that how Niger treats ousted President Mamadou Tandja will help set precedents concerning accountability for former heads of state in sub-Saharan Africa. At the time, Tandja was still languishing in house arrest. Yesterday a court dismissed the corruption charges against him:

Niger’s court of appeals has cleared ousted President Mamadou Tandja of corruption charges and ordered his release from jail.  The court freed the former president who has been held since being ousted by a military coup in February of last year.

In January, Tandja was transferred from house arrest to prison and charged with embezzling millions of dollars of public funds and ignoring a court order to cancel a 2009 constitutional referendum, aimed at expanding his power and extending his mandate.

The appeals court ruled Tuesday in the capital, Niamey. Tandja’s lawyers said all charges had been dropped and he would be released later that day.

He was freed soon after:

Niger’s former president, Mamadou Tandja, has been freed, 14 months after being placed under house arrest, then jailed following a military coup that toppled his government.

On Tuesday night, Tandja was seen leaving the prison in Kollo, 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Niamey, the capital, where he had been transferred after the February, 2010, coup.

The BBC and AFP have more.

What precedent do you think Tandja’s release could set?

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