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    Niger Opposition Goes to Court to Challenge Tandja

    Niger's main opposition the Party for Socialism and Democracy (PNDS) is expected to go before the country's Constitutional Court Monday to challenge President MamadouTandja's planned referendum. 

    The president, whose second five-year term in office ends in December wants to change the constitution so that he may run for three more years. He has called for an August four constitutional referendum. The court recently ruled that it was illegal for President Tandja to change the constitution.

    Human rights activist Abdul Kamardine told VOA that the president would contravene his oath of office if he continues with plans to change the constitution.

    He says the effort conflicts with the Constitutional Court's recent ruling that such action woudl be illegal.

    "Before the president dissolved the national assembly, the same court gave a kind of view saying that the president has no right to do the referendum," he said.

    Kamardine said President Tandja also disregarded a strong warning from the Constitutional Court not to dissolve parliament.

    He said it would be a major blow to President Tandja if the court rules again that the president has no legal right to change the constitution.                         

    Kamardine said the opposition protest scheduled for Sunday against the planned referendum was cancelled because authorities declined to give them permit.

    He said the opposition also wanted to protect its partisans after hearing word that security agents have been deployed to prevent them from going ahead with the demonstration.

    "Because today they understand that the government is sending the police and the gendarmes on them. So, they don't want to take the risk of maybe wounding or even killing some people," he said.                           

    Kamardine said the opposition is still determined to hold a protest march next week to press home its demand for President Tandja to rescind his decision to hold a referendum to remove presidential term limit.

     

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