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19 Jun 2009 12:38
Niger’s electoral commission said on Friday the country will hold snap elections on August 20 and confirmed the Constitutional Court’s rejection of a referendum on a third term for President Mamadou Tandja.
A parliamentary election has to be held within 45 days of the dissolution of Parliament, which Tandja decreed on May 26 immediately after the Constitutional Court issued a first ruling on amending the Constitution for his benefit.
Tandja again tried this month to decree a referendum on a new Constitution that would open the way for a third five-year mandate, but his opponents went to the Constitutional Court, who again ruled against it.
The issue has become deeply divisive in the poor, landlocked sub-Saharan nation and Tandja also ran into opposition from the regional Economic Community of West African States, of which Niger is among the 15 members.
The national independent electoral commission “classified the referendum as dropped the day after the Constitutional Court decision”, a member of the poll body Friday told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.
Tandja (71) is due to step down at the end of his mandate on December 22. A presidential election is already slated for November 14.
In a statement broadcast on public television on Thursday night, the poll commission asked parties and independent candidates to submit their electoral lists of candidates to it by June 25.
Last Sunday a slew of opposition parties, trade unions and civil society organisations grouped into a Front for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) coalition, held a giant demonstration in Niamey to hail the Constitutional Court’s rulings against Tandja.—AFP
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