News / Africa

Niger Begins Campaign for Constitutional Referendum

A young Fulani woman with traditional facial tattoos is seen in Niamey, Niger. Voters in Niger go to the polls this month in a referendum on changing the constitution, (File).
A young Fulani woman with traditional facial tattoos is seen in Niamey, Niger. Voters in Niger go to the polls this month in a referendum on changing the constitution, (File).

Voters in Niger go to the polls this month in a referendum on changing the constitution, following February's military coup.  Voters will decide whether to keep the constitution approved just last August, in a controversial referendum that increased the power of then-President Mamadou Tandja.  When Niger's parliament and constitutional court said the vote was illegal, the president dissolved both bodies and ruled by decree.

Military leaders toppled him in February and named a consultative counsel to draft a new constitution.

Attorney Seini Yaye, vice president of the counsel's commission on political affairs, says the citizens of Niger believe it is normal to have a new constitution to bring about a modern state that respects the rule of law.  He says there will not be this modern state without a new reliable constitution.

Niger is no stranger to changing its laws.  But political science professor Mahaman Tidjani Alou says the breadth of civil society represented in this consultative counsel makes this proposed constitution more accountable to the people.

Alou says it is the first time in Niger that a constitutional project was discussed by all parts of social and professional society. He says that, usually, when you talk about constitutions, you talk about the type of government. Will it be presidential, semi-presidential, or parliamentary?  Will this be a secular government or will it be Islamic?

The consultative counsel settled on what is known as a semi-presidential system that limits the powers of the chief executive.

The alliance of political parties that supported former President Tandja says that is a mistake because Niger needs a strong central authority to manage such a vast, under-developed country with huge population growth.

Because this referendum proposes a weaker presidency, former Prime Minister Seini Oumarou says Tandja supporters oppose it.

Oumarou says the 25 political parties that supported the previous government believe it is better for Niger to have a strong presidential government.  He says the alliance will have one voice in this referendum.

Attorney Yaye says the consultative counsel is confident it is presenting the people of Niger with the best way to restore civilian rule.

Yaye says it is important that new laws are in place before elections.  Yaye says, at the end of the month, Niger is going to have a new, normal constitution adopted by the people that will serve as the basis of a new normal constitutional life.

Professor Alou says this referendum is about more than the next president.

Alou says the people of Niger realize that the constitution is not only about the type of government, but it is about the choice of society and the principles that involve everyone.

If approved, this new constitution will set the stage for elections in January, delivering on the military's promise to return Niger to civilian rule within a year of their taking power.

You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid