Niger opposition parties have
unanimously rejected calls for negotiations with embattled President Mamadou
Tandja to resolve the escalating political crisis.
This comes after African
parliamentarians met President Tandja and urged the opposition to hold
discussions with the government.
But opposition members say they will not
negotiate with what they called an illegitimate president.
The African lawmakers
are currently assessing the ongoing political crisis following last month's
controversial referendum. After that, the lawmakers will present their report
to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is considering
sanctions against President Tandja's government.
Bazoum Mohammed, a Niger
opposition leader said that the African delegation
overstepped its boundary by calling for negotiations with what he described as
an illegal president.
this request, we are saying that it is a mistake that the chairperson of the
delegation when he proposed us to have a political discussion with the Nigerien
He said the objective of the
African lawmakers is to assess Niger's political situation.
"His aim is to come here and
have information about the situation and to go back to the parliament to do
some proposal of resolution to AU (African Union). It is not in his ability to
engage in negotiations between us and the government," he said.
Mohammed said there is
reason to believe that the lawmakers were bamboozled by President Tandja.
"(They) met Mr. Tandja who
tried to charm them. They don't know him they don't know how he is able to
cheat them and now they are thinking that they are important people. And that
Tandja really want to have negotiations with us (opposition)," Mohammed said.
He said the opposition
refuses to be fooled by what he called President Tandja's trickery.
"We know him (Tandja), he
has done his coup d'état (and now he wants to engage in negotiations with us),"
Mohammed said the opposition
would only engage in discussions with the government on a level playing field.
"Yes we would be ready to
have discussions with them, but on a real basis and with people who can manage
the mediation. Not with MPs (Members of Parliament) whose mandate is to have
only information about the situation and to go do a report," Mohammed said.
He said the African
parliamentarians seem not to be familiar with the ongoing political crisis.
"Our friends of the
Pan-African Parliament came here and because they don't know anything about the
situation they tell us to go have discussions on Mr. Tandja's basis… it is not
a basis for us," he said.
Mohammed expressed worry
that the final report the lawmakers will present to the African Union would be
skewed in President Tandja's favor.