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Tue, 01 Nov 2011 13:11 - Updated Tue, 01 Nov 2011 13:11

Former Niger president Saibou dies at 71

Niamey

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Niamey - Ali Saibou, who was president of Niger from 1987 to 1993 and brought multi-party politics to the west African country, died Monday in the capital Niamey, the presidency announced.

"It is with great regret that the head of state, Mahamadou Issoufou, announces the death today... of General Ali Saibou, former president of the republic," said a statement read out on state television.

Three days of national mourning were declared to honour Saibou, who is to be buried in his native village of Dingajibanda in western Niger.

In 1987, the junta ruling the coup-prone country appointed Saibou to succeed president Seini Kountche who had died of cancer.

In 1989, as the leader of the country's only party, he was elected with 99.5 percent of the vote, but two years later he authorised a national conference that led to the dawn of multi-party politics.

He completely removed himself from political life after stepping down.