Niger's President Seyni Kountche has announced an amnesty for several political prisoners.
GV President Seyni Kountche arrives in official car escorted by motorcycle outsiders
GV President Kountche inspects troops
GV Women cadets stand to attention PAN TO President Kountche walking past
GV Horsemen from the region of N'Donga ride past
SV Tribesmen in traditional costume
GV President Kountche with official party watching procession (3 shots)
SV Touareg party rides past on camels
GV Crowd watches as Touaregs ride past (2 shots)
GV Military officials watch Touareg party on camels (2 shots)
GV President Kountche returns to car
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Background: Niger's President Seyni Kountche has announced an amnesty for several political prisoners. He made the announcement during celebrations on Wednesday (16 April) marking the sixth anniversary of his accession to power.
SYNOPSIS: President Kountche has ruled Niger since April 1974. A coup, staged by the army, brought the Chief of Staff to power. The new military government suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament and announced its major objective was the elimination of corruption.
Niger's armed forces are on a small scale. There is an army of 2,000 men and paramilitary forces totalling 18 hundred men. The army's involvement in government has also diminished. After a series of reshuffles since President Kountche came to power, civilians now outnumber the military in the government by eleven to six.
President Kountche has had to deal with one of the world's poorest economies. Based largely on agriculture, Niger has suffered from severe droughts. Faced with a persistent dry spell in 1977-78, President Kountche sought to broaden support for has government and he released a number of political prisoners. During this ceremony he announced another amnesty.
Niger's most prominent political prisoner is former president Hamani Diori, who was overthrown in President Kountche's army coup. But the president did not say who would benefit from the amnesty; he just said that a number of prisoners would be set free.