NIAMEY, Jan 13: Some 30 non-governmental organisations in Niger said on Saturday they are going to sue the United States for nearly two billion dollars for “unfairly accusing” Niger of selling uranium to the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Our lawyers are about to file a lawsuit against the US calling for damages of about 1,000 billion CFA francs ($1.9 billion) for the harm suffered” by the country, Moustapha Kadi, president of the Collective of organisations in Niger defending the right to energy (CODDAE).

The lawsuit by the collective will be filed at either French or Belgian courts, Kadi added.

In January 2003, US President George W. Bush accused Saddam of having bought uranium from Niger to make weapons of mass destruction. The Niger collective said in a statement that investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), world media and US officials, all concluded that it was a “false accusation” against Niger.

That false information was used by Mr Bush “to invade Iraq,” said the collective's statement, which also called for support from Niger's President Mamadou Tandja, who back in 2003 said the US allegations were “harming Niger's image”.

Niger is the world's third-largest producer of uranium with about nine per cent of the global market, according to 2003 figures.

The country's two uranium deposits have been mined for 40 years by the French group Areva, number one in civil nuclear energy.—AFP

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