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syc
3rd August 2011, 02:14 PM
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Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou says 10 people have been arrested over July's coup attempt, but authorities are still searching for a key suspect.

It is the first time Mr Issoufou, whose election in March ended military rule in the West African state, has spoken about the foiled coup.

Last month an official told the BBC that soldiers had planned to assassinate Mr Issoufou.

Niger has had four coups since independence from France in 1960.

The BBC's Idy Baraou in the capital, Niamey, says the president made his comments in an address to the nation to mark the country's 51st anniversary of independence.

"These events come at a time when the government has decided to take strong action against the misuse of public funds through payment of fake accounts," AFP news agency quotes the president as saying.

Some of those appointed under Niger's military junta have been angered by Mr Issoufou's attempts to end corruption, which has led to the dismissal of several officials, our reporter says.

In April, the junta officially handed over to Mr Issoufou, 14 months after seizing power.

Soldiers had ousted President Mamadou Tandja in February 2010 after he sought a third term in office.

In October, voters backed a new constitution that reduces the powers of the president and limits him to two terms in office.

Mr Issoufou - a long-time opposition leader and ex-mining engineer - won power with nearly 58% of the vote.

At his inauguration ceremony, the outgoing junta leader, Salou Djibo, was decorated for his services to democracy.