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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid