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Niger Security Agents to Vote Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

Niger Security Agents to Vote Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

Niger Security Agents to Vote Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

Niger's security agencies will be voting one day ahead of Tuesday's scheduled parliamentary elections.

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The opposition is boycotting Tuesday's vote after describing it as a perpetuation of a coup d'état by embattled President Mamadou Tandja.

President Tandja refused to stop Tuesday's vote after holding discussions Sunday with officials of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Niamey contends that preparations for the election are far advanced to stop it, an argument the opposition dismissed as without merit.

Over the weekend, ECOWAS imposed sanctions against President Tandja's government by refusing to support any of its candidates for elective posts in any international organization.

Human rights activist Abdul Kamardine said that it is unlikely that ECOWAS imposed sanctions will stop the parliamentary vote.

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"Today, Monday, the Niger Electoral Commission decided, despite the ECOWAS summit injunction, to go ahead with its election. So today, the police, the gendarme and the military officers, all of them, are going to cast their vote, and tomorrow it will be the turn of the whole population," Kamardine said.

He said ECOWAS officials were not able to convince President Tandja to stop the election.

"Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was here together with the former Nigerian head of state Abdusalami Abubakar and some other ECOWAS VIP'S. They met with Tandja, but still he refused to stop the process," he said.

Kamardine said the government contends that preparations were far advanced to cancel the election.

"What his foreign affairs minister (Aichatou Mindaoudou) is saying is they are too far into the process for them to stop it. So ECOWAS should understand them and let them go on with it and later on, maybe they can now see how they can negotiate with the opposition," Kamardine said.

He said Nigeriens are unhappy with President Tandja's refusal to meet ECOWAS demands.

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"The people who are really conscious of what international relations mean, they are scared because there is a threat of embargo on Niger because ECOWAS is threatening to close all the borders with Niger…which will be too bad because…Niger is an inland (landlocked) country," he said.

Kamardine expressed difficulties Niger could face if the regional body imposes stiff sanctions.

"I don't think we can cope for a long time if at all ECOWAS (goes) ahead with its threat," Kamardine said.

He said opposition leaders and supporters held a rally over the weekend and called on ECOWAS to intervene in the political crisis.

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