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Niger Politicians Debate Provision on Presidential Power

Members of Niger's former regime were recently angered by proposed changes to reduce the power of the office of the presidency. But talks have moved forward calmly, and some politicians say the changes will help the country overcome problems in the future.

Niger's Consultative Council is currently debating provisions of what could be the West African country's new constitution.

One change, which would reduce the power of the presidency, has angered some members of former president Mamadou Tandja's regime.

Mr. Tandja was forced out of office in February in a coup. The country is currently ruled by a military government, but a public referendum on a new constitution is scheduled for October 31. Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in January.

A member of Tandja's political party, Sabo Saidou, said some members of the constitutional discussions are at risk of losing objectivity, because of disagreements among factions.

After initial disagreements about the president's power, talks have continued calmly. Saidou added that these innovations should allow citizens guidelines for approaching government bodies to solve possible problems in the future. He said it is a measure of security for the country.

The Economic Community of West African States,ECOWAS, a regional bloc, has condemned the military takeover and urged the junta to expedite Niger's return to constitutional rule.