Niger's opposition political parties say they will pull their representatives out of the Independent Electoral Commission Wednesday. The move is an attempt to prevent embattled President Mamadou Tandja's planned referendum from taking place.
The president, whose second five-year term ends in December, wants to change the constitution to extend his rule for three more years. He has called for an August fourth constitutional referendum despite intense opposition protest.
Abdullahi Jauri is a member of the now dissolved Niger parliament. He told VOA that the opposition would not condone what he described as President Tandja's antics.
"Today, Wednesday, we are going to withdraw our representatives. We are going to give our admission to the Independent Electoral Commission because there is no disposal in the constitution to give the right to the president…so we cannot give our consent to such masquerade," Jauri said.
Tandja has pressed ahead with his plan to hold the referendum despite the Constitutional Court ruling that it would be illegal, and despite growing international criticism of his position.
Meanwhile, the president has named former Justice Minister Boube Oumarou to head the new seven-member Constitutional Court, including four magistrates, one lawyer and a university professor.
But Jauri described as unfortunate the reconstitution of the court.
"He has no right because in the constitution, they said that the members of the court are irremovable, but in spite of that he (President Tandja) did it. So, we are going to take action to see that this referendum will not take place," Jauri said.
He reiterated the need for the opposition to thwart all attempts to hold a referendum.
"Maybe it is a very risky stand, but now we have to go crescendo to stop this masquerade by any means," he said.
Jauri said opposition parliamentary candidates have refused to be part of the upcoming election.
"Look, yesterday was the date where all the candidates of the members of parliament should take their files in the ministry of internal, they refused to take them," Jauri said.
He said President Tandja appears to be intolerant of any dissent.
"He is not listening to anybody; he is not listening to ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States); he is not listening to the United Africa (African Union); he is not listening to Ban Ki-Moon (United Nations Secretary General)," he said.
Jauri said Nigeriens are ready to resist President Tandja's planned referendum.