Niger parliamentarians are calling President Mamadou
Tandja's dissolution of parliament Tuesday dictatorial after the Constitutional Court foiled his bid for a third
The court also prevented the leader from his planned referendum which
would have allowed him to lift term limits. The parliamentarians vowed to begin
demonstrations to protest President Tandja's action, calling it a coup d'état
aimed at destabilizing the country.
President Tandja is expected to complete
his two five-year terms in office later this year. Abdullahi Jauri is a
legislator in Niger's dissolved parliament. He told VOA Nigeriens would resist President Tandja's objective to create a monarchy.
people are very sad about that because, you know, Niger was one of the most
democratic states in Africa where we ran two free and fair and transparent
He said the president seems
to have his interests above the country's interest.
"Now for the ambition of one
person who wants to go beyond his two term mandate, we are now very worried
about the future of Niger because anything can happen," he said.
Jauri said President
Tandja's ambition to remove term limits which would enable him to pursue a
third term after his mandate expires later in the year are illegal.
"All that action they are
not following law and regulation of Niger," Jauri said.
He said the protesters
intend to alert Nigeriens about the illegality of the president's action.
"We are going to tell the
people exactly what the Constitutional Court has said that he (President
Tandja) has not respected his oath," Jauri said.
He explained that those
opposed to the president's ambition are determined to sensitize other Nigeriens
about their freedom to choose a new leader.
"We are going to struggle,
and you know, there is a rally program starting from the far end of Niger which
would be held with all the majority of the political parties. It will take about 10 days," he said.
Jauri condemned the
president's move as an affront to Nigeriens, which amounted to unconstitutional
seizure of power.
"Right now it is like a
civilian coup d'état," he said.
Jauri said the president's
action is a pretext to sterner measures that he really wants to take.
"He has expressed he wants
to bring change to the presidential regime. That means all the power would be
concentrated on one hand, while the real fact is that he wants to install a
monarchy regime," Jauri said.
He said despite the refusal
of the court to allow his third term bid, President Tandja wants to break all
rules and regulations to achieve his aim.
"This constitution does not
allow him more than two terms. And the Constitutional Court, a national body,
yesterday said no to whether he can have a referendum. They said no, it is not
possible," he said.
Jauri said the president had
sought the legislators input, but then refused to listen to them.
"Yesterday brought a letter
asking our advice, and he didn't even have the courtesy to listen to our advice
about that," Jauri said.
He said the opposition would
leave no stone unturned to thwart what he described as President Tandja's
"We will go through what law
and regulation of our country gives us the right," he said.
Jauri said the opposition
would not be cowed into submission. Even if the president uses the military to
prevent them from protesting, he said, Nigeriens will fight for their rights.
"If he puts the force to
stop us, then the population would be witness. The international community will
witness again. So anyway, we will fight by any means," Jauri said.
"You know, liberty, you have
to fight to get it. So no liberty would be served on a tray like this so we are
ready to pay the price which we have to pay," he said.
president has long maintained that Niger's population wants him to stay and
lead the country. He contends that he has plans to end a rebel insurgency that
has destabilized parts of the Sahara, including regions where al-Qaeda
terrorists reportedly operate.
Meanwhile, the 15 members of
the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said last week that
neighboring countries could punish Niger with economic sanctions if it behaved
undemocratically over President Tandja's referendum proposal.