Page last updated at 10:53 GMT, Thursday, 24 December 2009

Obama curbs trade benefits for several African nations

Marchers in Niger
A march in support of Niger's President Mamadou Tandja

US President Barack Obama has stopped Madagascar, Guinea and Niger from receiving trade benefits for a year.

He said they had failed to make "continual progress" in meeting US requirements for a programme designed to create jobs in Africa.

Mr Obama said that each of the countries "has experienced an undemocratic transfer of power" meaning they did not satisfy the criteria.

However, Mauritania was re-instated to the programme.

The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act was set up in 2000 to offer "tangible benefits" for African countries trying to adapt their economies to a free market.

In order to take part, countries much show they are working towards, among other things, introducing the rule of law and political pluralism, the elimination of barriers to US trade and investment and efforts to combat corruption.

In Niger, President Mamadou Tandja refused to give up office at the end of his term, while both Guinea and Madagascar have both seen military-backed coups.

A coup took place in Mauritania last year, but an election was held this year that, although it returned the coup leader Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz to power, was deemed by observers to be transparent.

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