Niger: Arrests now reach former rebel leaders

Former rebel leader Rhissa Ag Boula, along with former commander Kindo Zada, were arrested today on unknown charges, and are reported to be in the Niamey civil prison. Rhissa Ag Boula is one of the most prominent, if divisive, Tuareg leaders, becoming a leader of rebel factions in the 1990s, and again in 2008-2009. In the interim he was brought into several governments as Minister of Tourism, until the Tandja government charged him with masterminding the murder of a ruling party activist in Tahoua in 2004. Ag Boula, who has always denied the charges, was on parole when, in 2008, he rallied to the then MNJ rebels while in Europe. He then started his own faction, the FFR, which only reluctantly was drawn into Libyan negotiations in 2009, although it carried out almost no attacks. Kindo Zada was an Army Major, close to former President Mainassara, who deserted to the MNJ rebels in July 2007. His arrival in Niamey last month seemed to signal the final integration of ex-fighters.

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