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Niger Rights Group Dismisses Referendum Results, Urges Tandja to Cede Power


In Niger, a human rights group has refused to recognize the results of the recent referendum that extends President Mamadou Tandja's term for three additional years.

The United Front for the Safeguard of Democratic Assets (FUSAD) says it will soon petition a West African Court to force President Tandja to hand over power after his term expires later in December.

But supporters of Tandja dismissed FUSAD's pronouncement, describing it as baseless and unpatriotic.

Maru Amadou is a leading member of FUSAD. He told VOA that President Tandja should not be allowed continuously to subvert Niger's constitution with impunity.

"First of all, you must know that it is an illegal referendum that has been said by our constitutional court. When a president violates his own constitution on which he came to power, he cannot be the president of this republic," Amadou said.

He described the referendum as a plot to hoodwink Nigeriens and extend President Tandja's rule for three more years.

"I can tell you that Tandja is now a rebel. So we should fight against his presidency until he falls because we cannot accept this in Africa," he said.

Amadou said the referendum a plot to siphon the country's resources.

"This is an insult for all Africa the enterprise of Tandja. You cannot accept on the reason of oil and uranium because you and your family (Tandja) have achieved some amount of money and you don't want people to know the reality. You decided to block …our democratic institutions," Amadou said.

He said the president is trampling on the rights of Nigeriens.

"I can tell you that democracy without rule of law is totalitarian. That is why you have to accept that anything illegal cannot achieve any effective result," he said.

Amadou said Nigeriens massively refused to participate in the referendum.

"If you take the referendum… Tandja didn't achieve even five percent of the people of this country. Yesterday, he was illegal and now he is illegitimate, so he should accept the consequences of his illegitimacy. That is why we are sure that all the people of Niger are opposed to his referendum and opposed to his stay in power," Amadou said.

He described as illegal President Tandja's ruling by emergency executive powers after dissolving parliament and reconstituting the constitutional court.

"Tandja cannot take exceptional power because the national assembly is opposed the referendum… He cancelled a large part of the constitution only to achieve his aim of staying in power. He cannot govern with decree and ordinance like a man who came to power by coup d'état. We cannot accept it," he said.

Meanwhile, Niger's electoral body announced last week that the controversial referendum, on constitutional changes to remove term limits, was approved by a vote of 92.5 percent.

Both the local and international community have condemned the referendum, describing it as a setback to Niger's democracy.


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