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June 15, 2014 AT 8:08 AM
Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets on Sunday in Niger's capital Niamey to demand that authorities respect civil liberties, following the arrest of several of their number last month. Demonstrators carried signs reading 'Down with Dictatorship' in criticism of the government of President Mahamadou Issoufou, elected in 2011 following a democratic transition after a military coup the previous year. Organizers said some 15,000 to 20,000 people took part in the march, in the center of the dusty riverside capital. Political tensions have risen sharply in the former French colony ahead of elections next year.