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Niger Opposition Vows to Continue Protests

In Niger, opponents of President Mamadou Tandja's plan to hold a constitutional referendum have vowed to continue their protests against the plan despite the untimely death of an opposition leader during Sunday's protest. 

Moumouni Djermakoye, leader of the opposition Nigerien Alliance for Democracy and Progress (ANDP) reportedly died of a heart condition during the protest. 

Sunday's protestors oppose President Tandja's, whose second and final consecutive term expires on December 22, has called for a referendum to extend his stay in power for three more years.

Human rights activist Abdul Kamardine participated in Sunday's protest. He told VOA that some trade unions are also planning more protests against the president's plan.

"Yes, that is what they decided actually…they are saying despite the ruling of the court the supporters of the president continue to tell him not to stop…so they have to be on alert too," Kamardine said.

He said opponents want President Tandja to rescind his decision to hold a referendum which the Niger Constitutional Court had already declared illegal.

"The president has to stop that referendum process…because there is no other way for him," he said.

Kamardine said Nigeriens are anxious to hear from President Tandja about his next line of action following the court's ruling.

"He hasn't talked yet. Everyone is waiting for his decision," he said.

He said Tandja's plan has also drawn criticism from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a sub-regional body.

"He is actually pressed by ECOWAS people, by some African presidents around Niger. So we are waiting to see," Kamardine said.

Kamardine said there are indications sanctions could be forthcoming especially if President Tandja shuns the warning of ECOWAS and the international community.

"If he ever refuses, the ECOWAS will just… put embargo on Niger which is not good. We are an inland (landlocked) country. So, if at all they put an embargo, economic on us or even they refuse us to have access to their seaports, it will be very bad for the people in Niger," he said.

Kamardine said the message during Sunday's protest was for Nigeriens to continue the struggle against President Tandja's plan to hold a referendum and extend his stay in office. 

 

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