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Niger leader moves to dissolve Constitutional Court

Niger President Mamadou Tandja moved on Monday to dissolve the country’s Constitutional Court, which has opposed his bid for a referendum that could prolong his stay in power, state radio said.

Tandja earlier on Monday replaced seven of eight ministers who resigned last week in protest at his controversial bid to prolong his stay in power.

The ministers were from the Democratic and Social Convention (CDS), Niger’s main party that had backed Tandja for a decade, enabling him to win the 1999 and the 2004 presidential elections.

Tandja, a 71-year-old retired army colonel, on Friday assumed emergency powers after the country’s Supreme Court refused to reverse a ruling outlawing his planned constitutional referendum.

The president wants to amend the Constitution so that he can run for a third five-year term in November elections, but his scheme has run foul of many trade unions, the political opposition and civil society organisations.

Tandja has also lost the support of some of his former allies in the deeply poor, landlocked state on the southern edge of the Sahara and caused concern in the Economic Community of West African States. — Sapa-AFP

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