Niger's opposition has claimed victory
because of the poor turnout for Tuesday's presidential referendum.
the measure, that sought to extend President Mamadou Tandja's term limits for
three additional years, also vowed to challenge the results of the poll after
initial results showed Mr. Tandjah ahead in the vote count.
President Tandja is
attempting to change the constitution to remove terms limits.
Bazoum Mohammed, deputy president of the opposition Nigerien
Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) told VOA that
with Tuesday's low turnout, Nigeriens have demonstrated solidarity with the
opposition by massively refusing to vote in the referendum.
are very satisfied because we called on people not to participate in the
election, and yesterday, very few people went to the voter bureau. It is a good
thing for us because it is a proof that the opposition is more representative
than Mr. Tandja's power, and people are with us rather than with him," Mohammed said.
dismissed the results of the just ended referendum as a sham.
results that Mr. Tandja and his electoral commission will have to give have no
importance for us because the results are being concocted here in Niamey," he
said the embattled president has ensured that he wins Tuesday's referendum.
voting, Mr. Tandja said that he expects to have 75 percent of the votes for his
referendum, and now, they are giving results that are more than 75 percent.
They wanted (Tandja) to do better than he hoped," Mohammed said.
described the referendum as the final straw in President Tandja's subversion of
this referendum, Mr. Tandja has realized his coup d'état. It has been a
process. He dissolved the parliament, he disbanded the constitution and he did
a new law. And now he has decided that he has been elected alone for three
years by this referendum," he said.
said the embattled president should be regarded as a dictator and not as a
constitutionally elected leader.
this moment, we will consider him as a soldier who took the power by force and
by weapons, and we will have a relationship with him on this basis. He no
longer has any legitimacy (and) he is no longer the president of the republic,"
said the opposition has decided to challenge the results of the referendum.
will contest the referendum results. We will not recognize him and we have to
do all our best as democrats. And we are sure that when we are helped by the
international community, he will face so much difficulty that he cannot rule as
he expects to do now," he said.
If approved, the
constitutional changes will allow Mr. Tandja to run for office after his second
term ends later in December.
Both the local and international community condemned the referendum, describing
it as a setback in Niger's fledgling democracy.